The mission of the 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment) (Airborne) is to provide rotary wing support to all U.S. Special Operations Forces, i.e. Special Forces, Rangers, MARSOC, SEALs, Special Tactics Teams as well as Tier-One operators. This worldwide support on contingency missions can include insertion, extraction, resupply or direct action support.
With the retirement of the U.S. AFSOC (Air Force Special Operations Command) MH-53 Pave Low helicopter, the 160th SOAR(A) remains the only special operations rotary wing force in SOCOM. Among the SOF operators, this unit is considered to comprise the premier helicopter pilots in the world. Known as the Night Stalkers, these soldiers are recognized for their proficiency of operating in nighttime operations. The standard of the 160th is to be ready to move at a moment’s notice, and arrive on target anywhere, anytime—plus or minus 30 seconds.
The regiment is comprised of four battalions. The 2nd Battalion is located at Fort Campbell, KY; the 3rd Battalion is based out of Hunter Army Airfield, GA and the 4th Battalion, activated in 2008 at Fort Lewis, WA. Each of these battalions have the identical organization; comprising two heavy lift companies of eight MH-47G Chinooks each and one medium-lift company of 10 MH-60 Black Hawks. While these three battalions form the nucleus of the support provided to all SOF units, the 1st Battalion, also at Ft. Campbell, is the home of the Little Birds (MH/AH-6) and the MH-60L Direct Action Penetrator.
The Secret Black Hawk
The MH-60L DAP (Direct Action Penetrator) variant is an MH-60L Black Hawk modified to accept a wide assortment of offensive weapon systems. Even though it performed missions during Desert Storm, it is only recently that any information has been released; and even that data is scarce. Its mission is to conduct attack helicopter operations utilizing area fire or precision guided munitions and armed infiltration or exfiltration of small units. It is capable of conducting DA (direct action) missions as an attack helicopter or reconfiguring for troop assault operations. In the direct action role, the DAP would not normally be used as a primary transport for troops or supplies because of high gross-weight limits. The DAP is capable of conducting any mission during day, night or adverse weather conditions.