MH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter

The MH-60 series of helicopters are a highly modified UH-60 Black Hawks, the U.S. Army's utility helicopter, flown exclusively by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR).:

160th SOAR Black Hawks feature several modifications:

  • Navigation - advanced GPS/Inertial navigation systems
  • Aerial refueling (AR) capability - an extendable refueling probe on the starboard side of the helicopter's fuselage enables in-flight refueling from MC-130E/H, MC-130P and MC-130W tankers
  • An extensive aircraft survivability equipment (ASE) including radar warning receivers, infrared jammers and flare/chaff launchers
  • Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) allowing for low-level all-weather day/night flying

MH-60 - Variants

The Night Stalkers fly several versions of the MH-60:


based around a UH-60A, the 'Kilo' is powered by 2 Two General Electric T700-GE-701C engines. Unique to the MH-60K is an integrated avionics system and a AN/APS-174 multi-mode radar. note: the MH-60K was retired in 2014.


the 'Lima' is the slightly less sophisticated cousin of the MH-60K. It is based around the UH-60L utility helicopter.

MH-60K/L - Roles

The MH-60K and MH-60L are primarily used for the insertion and extraction of Special Operations Forces (SOF) in hostile environments, day and night and in all weather conditions. The K/Ls can also re supply SOF units in the field, carry out medical evacuation (medevac), combat search and rescue (CSAR) and external load transports.

MH-60K/L - Equipment

For CSAR missions, the MH-60K/L are equipped with an AN-ARS-6 personnel location system (PLS). The PLS homes in on the signal from a compatible survival radio or distress beacon, as carried by U.S. pilots and Special Operations Forces, enabling their location to be pinpointed by the aircrew.

MH-60K/Ls are usually armed with M134 7.62mm electrically-operated, air-cooled gatling guns.

The SPIES extraction system in action

The helicopters carry a selection of gear for inserting and extracting personnel

  • Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System (FRIES)
    a set of rigs that allow for thick woolen ropes to be attached to the cabin to allow for operators to 'fast rope' down from the helicopter.
  • Special Patrol Insertion & Extraction System (SPIES)
    Used for extracting personnel from the ground, a single rope is attached to the helicopter and lowered down. A series of rings on the rope allow operators on the ground, all wearing special harnesses, to clip onto the rope. Up to 8 fully-laden troops can be lifted off the ground and carried away using this method
  • Rope ladder

MH-60K/L - Crew

The MH-60K/Ls are typically crewed by 4 Night Stalkers:

  • Pilot
  • Co-pilot
  • 2 x crewchiefs/aerial gunners

MH-60K Specifications

Crew 4 - Pilot, Co-pilot & 2 crew-chiefs/door-gunners
Engines 2 Two General Electric T700-GE-701C engines
Dimensions L - 17.1m
W (rotorspan) - 14.1m
H - 4.4m
Weights 6,114 kg (empty)
9,967 kg (max loadout)
Max Speed 296 kph
Range 964 km with 2x 1703-litre external fuel tanks
Armament 2 gun ports (port/starboard) :
7.62mm miniguns and/or.50 machine guns
Avionics AN/AAQ-16 FLIR
AN/APQ-174B Terrain Following Radar
AN/ARN-148 Omega/VLF navigation
M-130 chaff/flare dispensers
AN/ALQ-144 IR jammer
Radar / Laser warning receivers
KG-10 map display unit
MH-60K operated by the 160th SOAR, This 'kilo' has been fitted with the External Tank System (ETS) , comprising of 2x230 gallon fuel tanks. In addition to its internal fuel tanks, the ETS can be replenished in-flight via the helicopter's refueling probe. A downside of carrying the ETS is that they interfere with the M134 miniguns typically mounted in firing ports either side of the fuselage.
photo courtesy US Army

MH-60L Direct Aaction Penetrator (DAP)

when the 160th needs serious firepower it sends in the MH-60L DAP. The DAP is configured as a gunship, with no troop-carrying capacity.

MH-60L - Roles

The primary role of the MH-60L DAP is one of armed escort and air-to-ground attack missions.

MH-60L - Weapons

A wide range of air-to-ground and air-to-air ordnance can be carried, fitted to its external stores system (ESS) pylons:

  • 2 x M134 miniguns, in a fixed forward-facing fitment
  • M230 30mm chain gun - the same gun as found on the AH-64 Apache gunship
  • M261 FFAR 2.75" 19-rocket pods - which can fire high explosive, smoke or anti-personnel fletchette rounds
  • GAU 19/A .50 cal 3-barrelled gatling gun
  • AGM-114 Hellfire laser-guided missiles
  • AIM-92 ATAS (Air To Air Stinger)

MH-60L - Equipment

The MH-60L DAP is fitted with an AN/AAQ-16D AESOP FLIR which incorporates a laser designator which can paint targets for the AGM-114 missiles.

MH-60L DAP - Specifications

Crew 4 - Pilot, Co-pilot & 2 door gunners
Engines 2 Two General Electric T700-GE-701C engines
Dimensions L - 17.1m
W (rotorspan) - 14.1m
H - 4.4m
Weights 11,516 lbs (empty)
22,000 lbs (max loadout)
Max Speed 294 kph
Range 445 nautical miles
Armament Various combinations of :
M230 30mm cannon (1100 rounds) @ 625 rounds per minute
M261 FFAR 2.75" 19-rocket pods.
AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles
GAU 19/A .50 gatling gun
M134 7.62mm miniguns
AIM-92 ATAS (air-to-air Stinger)
AN/APQ-174B Terrain Following Radar
AN/ARN-148 Omega/VLF navigation
M-130 chaff/flare dispensers
AN/ALQ-144 IR jammer
Radar / Laser warning receivers


The MH-60M upgrade will eventually replace the K/L/DAP variants over the coming years. Improvements include the Common Avionics Architecture System, a standardized set of LCD displays and aircraft management systems. The MH-60M as well as improved navigation and mission management systems.

more info : MH-60M Blackhawk

update: as of Febuary 2011, the first MH-60M helicopters have been delivered to the 160th SOAR for future deployment.

MH-60 Resources

« 160th SOAR

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A fully-armed MH-60L Direct Air Penetrator (DAP) pictured in a hangar
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