Earlier this week, footage began to surface online of blacked-out military helicopters flying low over the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Unnerving as an MH-6 Little Bird clad in special operators wearing full “battle rattle” zooming over your local grocer may seem, the citizens of L.A. have no need to fret: these low flying birds of prey are the good guys.
The helicopters, which included the aforementioned Little Birds as well as MH-60 Black Hawks, hail from the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (also known as SOAR). These pilots are tasked with the insertion and extraction of America’s special operations troops in heavily contested territory, often flying extremely low, with little or no external lighting whatsoever, using darkness for concealment. Their tenacity for twilight operations has earned them moniker, “Night Stalkers.”
MILITARY EXERCISE: The U.S. Army is conducting military training in the greater Los Angeles and Long Beach areas tonight until Feb. 9. Downtown LA residents are reporting seeing helicopters and hearing explosions. @MizSkellington pic.twitter.com/8Mmgn2FdTK
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) February 5, 2019
“Residents may hear sounds associated with the training,” the LAPD said in a news release. “Each location selected enables special operations teams and flight crews to maintain maximum readiness and proficiency, validate equipment and exercise standard safety procedures. The training is essential to ensure service members are fully trained and prepared to defend our nation overseas.”
These types of exercises are not uncommon. In April of last year, NEWSREP covered a group of dimly lit helicopters from the 160th flying low through the streets of Southern Manhattan in a very similar way. These drills tend to follow one of two standard lines of thinking; either pre-deployment training for a specific engagement or more generalized readiness training meant to ensure America’s special operators have the skills they need to conduct combat operations in urban environments. These drills often involve JSOC operators infiltrating the city by other means, collecting intelligence or capturing targets, before the Night Stalkers spin up their rotors and head in for support or extraction.
Watch them in action below: