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Posted: 10/5/2001 10:19:52 AM EDT
Los Angeles Times: Army Helicopters Shot Down Before [URL]http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-attacks-black-hawks1005oct05.story?coll=sns%2Dap%2Dnation%2Dheadlines[/URL] Army Helicopters Shot Down Before By MATT KELLEY Associated Press Writer October 5 2001, 2:14 AM PDT WASHINGTON -- It's a nightmare the Pentagon doesn't want repeated: Guerillas reportedly trained by Osama bin Laden shoot down two U.S. helicopters over Mogadishu, Somalia, and jeering mobs drag a crewman's body through the streets. That 1993 incident, in which 18 U.S. soldiers died, prompted America's pullout from peacekeeping operations in Somalia. Since then, the Army's special forces have changed their tactics but haven't replaced the type of helicopter involved -- the UH-60 Black Hawk. The Black Hawk remains a workhorse of the Army helicopter fleet, used for multiple jobs such as taking commandos to their targets and giving officers an airborne command center. In Afghanistan, its probable use would be to transport U.S. forces hunting bin Laden. First added to the arsenal in 1979, the Black Hawk design has been updated several times; the latest versions are larger and faster than the original. For special forces operations, a Black Hawk can carry up to 14 commandos and their equipment. The helicopters carry two 7.62 mm machine guns to defend themselves, and can be fitted with air-to-ground rockets. Black Hawks are heavily armored, designed to survive hitting the ground at 137 mph and to fly for 30 minutes with one rotor blade severed. The 1993 counterattack by supporters of Somali warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid, however, showed that Black Hawks are not bulletproof. Using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, and reportedly focusing their fire on the helicopters' most vulnerable areas, the Somalis shot down two of the four Black Hawks engaged in an operation to arrest several of Aidid's top lieutenants. U.S. prosecutors later said bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network had helped train Aidid's forces to shoot down Black Hawks. Adding more armor to the Black Hawk wouldn't have helped in Mogadishu, said retired Army Col. Ken Allard. Aidid's men knew the Americans were coming and were willing to lose more than 300 people to bring down a U.S. helicopter, said Allard, who teaches at Georgetown University. "That has nothing to do with hardening the Black Hawk. That's having to deal with a fighting, learning enemy," Allard said. One lesson the U.S. military learned was that trying to go after one leader is almost impossible, Allard said. Officers also learned how damaging the images of dead Americans can be.
Link Posted: 10/5/2001 10:21:16 AM EDT
So did bin Laden. In a 1998 interview with ABC News, he said Somalia proved the United States lacks the resolve to fight when it means Americans will die. "We have seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier who is ready to wage cold wars and unprepared to fight long wars," bin Laden said. "They can run in less than 24 hours, and this was also repeated in Somalia." A movie about the 1993 incident, "Black Hawk Down," is scheduled to be released in March. The Army provided equipment and training for the film, which is based on Mark Bowden's book. The Black Hawk isn't the only helicopter special forces can use, however. Another helicopter commonly used on such missions is the Air Force's MH-53J/M Pave Low, which can carry 38 troops, has a longer range than the Black Hawk and three machine guns instead of two. The military used Pave Lows to bring in and take out special reconnaissance forces in Iraq before the Gulf War. A Pave Low also made the first rescue of a downed pilot during that war. Earlier versions of the Pave Low were used in the failed 1980 attempt to free hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran. Seven of the eight helicopters were lost after a helicopter collided with a refueling plane. Afghanistan is a challenging place to fly any helicopters. Dust and snow storms can prevent helicopters from flying. Afghanistan's towering mountains also are barriers to helicopters, which cannot operate in the thin air of high altitudes. ___ On the Net: Black Hawk helicopter: http://www.sikorsky.com/programs/blackhawk/index.html Copyright 2001 Associated Press
Link Posted: 10/5/2001 10:33:28 AM EDT
What is the point of that story? Usually, newspapers have news. That isn't news. Looks like filler to me.
Link Posted: 10/5/2001 10:39:51 AM EDT
Filler? Anything new? I remember when they would slather whole pages with images of what the press thought iraqi bunkers looked like.
Link Posted: 10/5/2001 11:44:22 AM EDT
I think the point of this author is trying to make is that the USA choppers are vulnerable to hostile ground fire. He is making a connection that Ben Laden trained the Somalias that successfully brought down 4 choppers, so these folks can probably do it again.
Link Posted: 10/5/2001 12:09:47 PM EDT
Remember how many helicopters were lost in Vietnam do to ground fire. If you can lure the helicopters in close enough, then small arms and light machine guns can bring them down. Of course if hit with an RPG-7 round or one of our "Stingers" or Russia's equivalent of the Stinger, then they are history. It's nice if you control the area that helicopters are to operate out of. It's beginning to look like that we will be unable to actually launch any kind of combat mission's involving ground troops or air strikes from the neighboring countries "Turf". May have to use Pakistan's air space for refueling helicopters and fighter/bombers for strikes deep inside Afghanistan, unless I'm missing something on the news. Maybe all strike's will be off of the Aircraft Carrier's, Diego Garcia and Oman????? The Northern Alliance will have to fight for, win and hold large area's of land for our Ground Troops to get a foot hold because of the isolation and lack of close staging area's for launching combat missions. Just my own personal thoughts, not a "Tactician".....
Link Posted: 10/5/2001 12:51:08 PM EDT
Link Posted: 10/5/2001 12:57:16 PM EDT
Any helicopter is vulnerable to ground fire. The most heavly armored helicopter, the Hind, was being shot down in Afghanstan.
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