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Flightline Friday EXTRA! “Operation Black Dart” September 2, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Flightline Friday, foolishness, fun, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.

Operation Black Dart featured live fire training of MH-60R Seahawk helicopters of helicopter maritime strike squadron HSM-75 from NAS North Island, San Diego.  The training involved something I’ve never seen before, air-to-air gunnery between Seahawk door gunners and UAV targets.  Looks like two were shot down below.  Maybe Blaine, who flies the MH-60S model, can provide some commentary.  For those who don’t know, the MH-60R replaces the previous SH-60B and SH-60F helos in the anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), sea control and special ops roles.  The MH-60S flies vertical replenishment (VERTREP), medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), combat search and rescue (CSAR), and ASuW, and mine countermeasures (MCM).  The MH-60S is unofficially known as the “Knighthawk.”

Again, the is the maritime strike “R” version below. Video by Petty Officer 2nd Class Antonio Turretto Ramos | Navy Public Affairs Support Element West | Date: 08.06.2015

See how squeaky wheels get the grease!  You just keep it up, Woody.  I’ll have you so tired of Flightline Friday you’ll be begging for some endless SSPX fights.

Actually, when I watched this on my phone last night with a tiny screen it looked a lot more dramatic than it did in high def on a large monitor.  It looked a bit lame. I was reminded of WWI biplanes with a rear gunner on a flexible mount.  Pretty much the same speed range as WWI fighters, too (slow).  Shooting down a maneuvering target with a pintle-mounted gun being next to impossible (all those WWII movies you’ve seen of B-17 waist gunners shooting down Me109s or FW190s……..rarely, if ever, happened.  Pintle mounted guns are not known for their terrific accuracy, especially against swiftly moving targets.  So it was actually a pretty good bit of marksmanship to shoot down that small drone conveniently flying directly abreast the helo at the same speed and maybe 100 yds away.

Here’s Blaine’s bird doing what it does a lot of the time, if the military coverage is any indicator.  It may not be glamorous but hauling stuff from one ship to another is a pretty mean feat in itself.  It ain’t easy to hover above a moving, bobbing ship, picking up loads, setting them down right where needed, without hurting anyone or crashing the bird. Then there’s the fun of load shifts, wind, and all that.  So good job!

Not sure where the Puma’s from. It’s got a US civil registry, so maybe contractor?  I didn’t know there were (m)any SA-330s flying in the US?

Oh goodness, this is even better, but the language is very, uh……..military.  As in salty.  The pilot of #2 seems aggrieved at his flight lead’s maneuvers.  But it’s awesome Gopro helmet cam footage:

This guy’s got a lot of MH-60S footage.  I wonder if our reader knows him?  HSC-25 and HSC-14, apparently.


1. Woody - September 3, 2015

Haha! Keep ’em comin’. I’ll let you know when I’ve had enough!

Tantumblogo - September 3, 2015

I hope Blaine comes by. I think he’s maybe been in HSC-14 but I’m not sure.

2. Blaine - September 4, 2015

Here I am!

Okay, so first, I was never in HSC-14. That’s a west coast squadron, and I’ve never been out there. I flew MH-53E’s in HM-15 (Corpus Christi and Norfolk) and MH-60S’s at NSWC Panama City Detachment in Florida (and HSC-2 for the FRS). I’m back in HM-15 in the reserves for the time being, flying (sort of) the Sea Dragon again.

Here’s some thoughts – these are personal thoughts and in no way reflect the policy, doctrine or opinions of the U.S. Navy (in fact, they’re often quite contrary to the official ones):

1. Both versions of the H-60 currently in service, the R and the S, are designed and meant to do their primary missions. They do those pretty well. In the case of the Romeo, that is ASUW, which it does quite well. For the Sierra, it’s to be a truck hauling personnel and cargo and SAR (which is both a blast and supremely fulfilling).

2. All the talk of “Forward Firing and Lethal” and “Suns out, guns out” or whatever the heck the current silly motto is, well, it’s all unrealistic at best. Both birds are heavy – quite a bit moreso than their Army Blackhawk counterparts. They’re performance at altitude (bane of all tail-rotor equipped helos) and hot/heavy conditions is marginal at best. Sure, they’re fast – lightly loaded on a cold day in a dive. The MH-60S is terrible at the mine countermeasures mission – my personal opinion of course – which is a job much better suited to an aircraft purposed designed for the mission (the MH-53E). Also, in the gulf, I could easily outrun a Sierra in the 53 at any altitude, even with a much more useful load and them empty.

3. VERTREP is awesome. It’s one of those things that takes skill, steady hands, and is super important for the fleet. It’s really like a ballet. Some of those guys are so amazing at it, it seriously looks graceful when done well. VERTREP in an MH-53E is SPECTACULAR. You have no idea the amount of stuff that bird can lift. The downwash from a heavy 53 can be on the order of 75-80 knots or more so the ground crew has to be extremely careful. I was privileged to get to do that for some training in the Arabian Gulf. It’s not a normal mission, but I needed an “externals” sign off for my aircraft commander qualification and a ship was willing to play ball.

4. Not VERTREP exactly as it’s not ship to ship, but here’s an example: https://youtu.be/FsqG9yXr8r8

5. Oh what the heck, here’s some more:
Only way to fly a 60 (at 1:24 in): https://youtu.be/drXWZ4L78OM
Landing on an LSD: https://youtu.be/5QRsi-MkLxw
Quickstop at NSWC PCD: https://youtu.be/jGMCiDXeCF8
GAU-21 from the ramp: https://youtu.be/x2SZYpqwkUY
Externals at Felker AAF in Virginia (training, I’ve done this a billion times): https://youtu.be/DiAXcvtASBo
Oh yeah, we do minesweeping: https://youtu.be/-GiwNqbqz14
A mini-documentary on MK-103 mechanical minesweeping: https://youtu.be/l5QWs6QJFCI

What else you guys want to know? I can bash the Seahawks any day. They were awesome, though, for a shore-tour with civilian maintenance that always kept them clean and running. Fifteen minute preflights without getting covered in grease/oil and air conditioning while flying sure beats the 53’s in something! That being said, I’d prefer to be a Sea Dragon pilot any day of the week.

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