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Rotary Wing

The Internet was aflame this morning with talk of  NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s statement to 60 Minutes last night that his department has the ability to shoot down aircraft. Naturally, this prompted people to ask if the department has some type of surface-to-air-missiles. We’ve seen talk about the militarization of America’s police departments over the past few decades but this would take things to a new level!

Here’s what Kelly told 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley:

Pelley: Do you mean to say that the NYPD has the means to take down an aircraft?

Kelly: Yes, I prefer not to get into the details but obviously this would be in a very extreme situation.

Pelley: You have the equipment and the training.

Kelly: Yes.

At the end of the day, it turns out that the NYPD isn’t running around with SL-AMRAAM’s (pronounced slam-ram) like the ones that defend Washington DC, Patriot missiles or even shoulder-fired Stinger missiles. Nope, the department’s anti-aircraft capacity comes from snipers trained to fire the famous Barrett .50 cal while flying in a police department helo. This is very similar to how the Coast Guard uses HH-65 Dolphin choppers to defend Washington DC against small, slow moving Cessna-style planes.

From the NY Post:

The weapon, which the department has had for four years, is stored in an NYPD safe and is deployed only for “special occasions,” such as when the president is in town, the sources added.

Let’s just hope the NYPD doesn’t start experimenting with using an AT-6 light attack plane for this mission like U.S. Northern Command did last November.

For more on helo-sniping, check out this post at sister site Kit Up!

Via Gizmodo and 60 Minutes.

Check out this shot of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta getting off a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey after arriving in New York City for a visit to the 9/11 Memorial there yesterday.

In its earliest combat deployments, the V-22 had a somewhat unwarranted reputation as a VIP taxi that was kept out of harm’s way. However, it does seem to be fulfilling that role stateside.

UPDATE: The hour-long flight from DC to New York was the first of what will likely be many stateside V-22 missions transporting the Secdef and other Washington officials, according to the Marines.

No word yet on which unit ferried Panetta to NYC or why the Osprey was used.

The Ospreys were from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 (VMM-266) out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, NC, according to Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Kevin Schultz.

Schultz tells DT that Panetta’s office requested the Ospreys for the flight to New York and that this was likley the new Secdef’s first-ever ride in an MV-22. However, this certainly won’t be Panetta or other VIPs’ last ferry trip in a V-22 given that tiltrotor transport “is the new norm,” Schultz added in an email:

This type of air transportation is the new norm and can be expected to be seen more and more often.  Logistically, it makes things very easy…yesterday’s trip included a Pentagon pad pick-up, an approximate one hour flight direct to the Wall Street Pad and opposite flow for the way home.

Remember, the Quantico, Va.,-based HMX-1 presidential/VIP transport squadron is slated to receive 14 Ospreys (that will be equipped with VIP transport kits) starting in 2013.

As we said earlier today, using a V-22 for this op makes some sense, it can pick the Secdef up at the Pentagon’s heliport and whisk him to downtown Manhattan at airplane speeds without the need to go through airports.  Still, you can bet that some people are bound to ask why all available V-22s aren’t being used for combat or training ops.

(Notice that there’s another MV-22 in the background, it looks like they’re at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport.)



A while back we reported that HMX-1, the Marine Corps helo squadron that operates the fleet Marine One VH-3s and VH-60 presidential transport choppers, is going to receive 14 MV-22 Ospreys as support aircraft.

The MV-22s are set to replace the HMX-1’s old VH-53D Sea Stallions VH-53E Super Stallions (shown below) that are part of the “green top” fleet of choppers used to haul gear and support personnel in support of the president’s travels. (Only the VH-3s and VH-60s that carry the president receive the distinct green and white paint scheme — hence their nickname of “white tops.”)

However, the squadron is buying four removable VIP transport kits for its Ospreys. While pretty basic compared to the amenities found in standard Marine One birds, they certainly sound more comfortable than your standard cargo bird.

From Marine Corps Times:

VIP kits will outfit Osprey aircraft with green interior walls and a ceiling that will hide the tangle of wires, cords, tubes and pipes inside themedium-lift aircraft, according to the solicitation.

Black covers will give the canvas and metal seats that line each wall a sleeker look and more comfort. Matching black carpet will be added.Boarding passengers will be welcomed by the HMX-1 unit logo emblazoned on the rear ramp’s carpeting.

The kits are to be installed without any permanent modifications.

[Continue reading…]

Well, our worries about the Pakistanis giving China access to the wreckage of the stealth helicopter used in the raid to kill Osama bin Laden may have come to fruition.

The Financial Times is reporting that Pakistan allowed Chinese engineers to take photos and samples of the tail assembly of the stealthy “Black Hawk” helicopter that was abandoned at bin Laden’s compound after it suffered a hard landing during the raid.

From the FT:

“The US now has information that Pakistan, particularly the ISI, gave access to the Chinese military to the downed helicopter in Abbottabad,” said one person in intelligence circles, referring to the Pakistani spy agency. The Chinese engineers were allowed to survey the wreckage and take photographs of it, as well as take samples of the special “stealth” skin that allowed the American team to enter Pakistan undetected by radar, he said.

President Barack Obama’s national security council had been discussing this incident and trying to decide how to respond. A senior official said the situation “doesn’t make us happy”, but that the administration had little recourse.

Islamabad is naturally in damage control mode over the report, denying that it shared the wreckage with anyone until it was returned to the U.S. nearly a month after the raid.

Here’s what current and former Pakistani officials told U.S. government backed Radio Free Europe about the matter:

“The report is totally baseless and we strongly reject it,” Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said in response to the “Financial Times” report.

Asad Munir, a retired brigadier-general and former ISI station chief in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, discounts the possibility that the Chinese were given access to the U.S. helicopter.

He notes that the remains of the stealth helicopter were handed over to the United States within a few days of the May 1–2 operation to kill the Al-Qaeda leader.

“There are no Chinese defense experts who are experts in helicopter technology that are present in Pakistan,” Munir says.

The complete truth and how it will impact the already strained U.S.-Pakistan relationship remains to be seen. Still, you’ve got to wonder how much anyone was able to glean from the tail assembly. At a minimum they would have a better understanding of modern stealth coatings (more advanced than the coating found on the F-117A Nighthawk wreckage that China was rumored to have accessed in the late 1990s) and the high-tech rotor assembly that may be designed to reduce the chopper’s noise signature.

Check this out, a picture of a Chinese-made Z-8 helo operating off the flight deck of China’s aircraft carrier, the Shi Lang. There’s another one below. This is the first time I’ve seen flight ops on the carrier.

PS. Are those IFF antennas coming off the flight deck?


Via Alert5.