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Home > USASOAC > 160th SOAR (A) > Airframes


MH-60 Black Hawk

mh-60 black hawk

The primary mission of the MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is to conduct overt or covert infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces across a wide range of environmental conditions. An armed version, the Direct Action Penetrator, has the primary mission of armed escort and fire support. Secondary missions of the MH-60 include external load, combat search and rescue and medical evacuation operations. The MH-60 is capable of operating from fixed-base facilities, remote sites, or ocean-going vessels.

The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) operates three versions of the Black Hawk helicopter:

The MH-60K (Black Hawk) is a highly modified twin-engine utility helicopter based on the basic UH-60 Black Hawk airframe but developed specifically for the special operations mission. Improvements include an aerial refueling capability, an advanced suite of aircraft survivability equipment and improved navigation systems, including multi-mode radar to further improve pinpoint navigation in all environments and under the harshest conditions.

The MH-60L is also a highly modified version of the standard U.S. Army Black Hawk configured for special operations use. It has many, but not all, of the modifications found on the “K” model.

The MH-60L Direct Action Penetrator (DAP), or DAP, is an MH-60L modified to mount a variety of offensive weapons systems. 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 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.

MH-60L and MH-60K Performance Characteristics:

  • Normal cruise airspeed 120 knots
  • Maximum dash airspeed 178 knots
  • Normal mission range (no A/R) 450 NM
  • Normal mission endurance (no A/R) 4 hrs, 20 min


The UH-60 (Blackhawk) is a twin turbine engine, single rotor, semi-monocoque fuselage helicopter. Primary mission capabilities of the helicopter are tactical transport of troops, supplies and equipment. Secondary missions include training, mobilization and deployment of new and improved concepts and support of disaster relief.

MH-47 Chinook

mh-47 chinook

The MH-47 Chinook helicopter conducts overt and covert infiltration, exfiltration, air assault, resupply, and sling-load operations over a wide range of environmental conditions. The aircraft can perform a variety of other missions including shipboard, platform, urban, water, parachute, forward arming and refueling point, mass casualty, and combat search and rescue operations. Using special mission equipment and night vision devices, MH-47 aircrews can operate in hostile mission environments over all types of terrain at low altitudes during periods of low visibility and low ambient lighting conditions with pinpoint navigation accuracy.

The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) currently operates two variants of the Chinook Helicopter.

The MH-47E Chinook is a heavy assault helicopter based on the CH-47D airframe, but specifically designed and built for special operations aviation missions with a totally integrated avionics subsystem. This avionics package combines redundant avionics architecture with dual mission processors, remote terminal units, multifunction displays and display generators to improve combat survivability and mission reliability. The “Echo” model also has an aerial refueling probe for in-flight refueling, an external rescue hoist, and two L714 turbine engines with a Full Authority Digital Electronic Control that provides more power during hot or high-altitude environmental conditions.

The MH-47G Chinook is a heavy assault helicopter based on the MH-47E airframe. Maintaining the same basic fuselage, fuel system, power train, engines and performance standards as the “Echo” model, it has further structural modifications including a new cockpit with an extended nose and technological enhancements for special operations missions. It is the first 160th helicopter equipped with the Army special operations aviation specific Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS). The fully integrated digital CAAS avionics package combines upgraded software and hardware, including active matrix liquid crystal displays (LCDs), data processing units and control display units, to provide a high-tech, standardized communication and navigation system in SOAR aircraft. The “Gulf” model also has multi-mode radar to navigate challenging environments and dangerous terrain; a Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System (FRIES) for insertion of personnel and equipment and extraction of personnel; a defensive armament system with two M-134 “Minigun” machine guns and one M-60D machine gun; and an external rescue hoist.

MH-47D and MH-47E Performance Characteristics:

  • Normal cruise airspeed: 120 knots
  • Maximum dash airspeed: 170 knots
  • Normal fuel burn rate: 2750 lbs per hour
  • Maximum altitude: 20,000 feet

AH-6M Little Bird

The AH-6M Little Bird is a highly modified version of the McDonnell Douglas 530 series commercial helicopter. The light attack aircraft has a single turbine engine and dual flight control. It is primarily employed in close air support of ground troops, target destruction raids and armed escort of other aircraft. The AH-6M is normally flown by two pilots.
The Little Bird variants can be deployed on any Air Force transport aircraft. Both can be prepared for, transported and reconfigured for flight in a minimal amount of time.

AH-6M Mission Equipment

  • Communications equipment capable of secure operations including UHF and VHF modes. SATCOM is installed on some aircraft and available as an option on all aircraft.
  • FowardLooking Infrared, or FLIR, is a controllable, infrared surveillance system that provides a TV video-type infrared image of terrain features and ground or airborne objects of interest. The FLIR is a passive system and detects long wavelength radiant IR energy emitted, naturally or artificially, by any object in daylight or darkness.

AH-6M Weapons Systems

The AH-6M is capable of mounting a variety of weapons systems, including both M-134 miniguns and rocket pods.

MH-6M Little Bird

MH-6M Little Bird

The MH-6M Little Bird is a single-engine light utility helicopter that has been modified to externally transport several combat troops and their equipment. It is capable of conducting infiltrations, exfiltrations and combat assaults over a wide variety of terrain and environmental conditions. The MH-6M is also used for reconnaissance missions.

MH-6M Mission Equipment

  • External Personnel System mounted on each side of the aircraft.
  • Rapid configuration for fast rope and short tactical airborne operations.
  • Systems to assist the crew in identifying enemy positions.

CASA 212

The CASA 212 aircraft is an all-metal, high wing utility multi-purpose light transport aircraft with short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability. The mission of the aircraft is varied and may include transport of equipment and personnel, aerial delivery, medical evacuation, photography, geophysical survey, and airborne operations.


C27J Spartan

The C-27J Spartan is a twin turboprop medium-sized tactical military transport aircraft with exceptional short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities.   It is designed for transporting equipment or troops in combat zones and operating in an austere environment with minimal ground support.  The C-27J brings to USASOC the capability to conduct pressurized flight and high altitude jump operations, tactical vehicle load training, increased payload for jump and aerial delivery operations, and vastly increased speed and range for supporting outlying ARSOF units.


The C-12C (King Air 200) is a pressurized, low wing, all metal aircraft powered by two PT6A turboprop engines and has all-weather capability. Distinguishable features of the aircraft are the slender, streamlined engine nacelles, square-tipped wing and tail surfaces, a T-tail and dual aft body strakes below the empennage. The basic mission for the aircraft is to provide a transport service supporting staff in the conduct of command and control functions, administration, and liaison and inspection.