Watch Night Stalker Choppers Descend In Unison Into Small Parking Lot Near Staples Center

The scene is right out of a Hollywood blockbuster action movie, backdrop and all.

byTyler Rogoway|
MH-60/AH-60 photo


Another night, another round of special operations exercises in the Downtown Los Angeles area (read all about this unique training here), with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, better known as the Night Stalkers, providing transportation for special operators in their heavily modified MH-6 Little Bird and MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. Last evening marked the second night of this exercise, so local citizens and news stations were far more aware of what to expect. As a result, news choppers were listening closely to the radio and combing the city for some rare real-world blockbuster movie-like action. They were quite successful in their hunt, which resulted in some awesome video. One clip, in particular, is especially awe-inspiring. 

While Monday's most amazing clip of the spec ops helicopter action featured blacked-out Little Birds buzzing down city streets at treetop level, on Tuesday night, the Night Stalkers and their counter-terrorism special operations passengers seemed to focus on areas around two high-profile sporting venues—Staples Center and Dodger Stadium—executing operations around both locales with a pair of MH-60s and the usual quartet of MH-6s. 

The best video available looks like it could have come right out of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. It shows a formation of the helicopters descending past the Staples Center and into a small parking lot nearby where special operators quickly run out, strap on the MH-6's planks and fill a MH-60's cabin, and then take off again. 

Here are two versions of the video. The Twitter version is higher definition, but if you can't access it the youtube version is also posted below:

Video thumbnail

The video doesn't really tell the whole story though. This quick operation underscores just how complex this training is and why it can't be replicated in any sort of fake MOUT training site.

As you can see below, the landing site sits among a dense set of buildings, some of which are very tall. Even the parking lot that the helicopters quickly used as a landing zone has poles, trees, and wires that could spell disaster for a helicopter. 

Google Earth

The parking lot they used sits next to an urgent care facility and if you look carefully in the video, one of the MH-6s actually lands inside the tight confines of the open court-yard like parking area. 

Google Earth
Google Earth
Google Earth

Also, in the video, you will notice that a military working dog boards the Black Hawk with his handler and the same Black Hawk is also equipped with a fast rope. So, where they were heading next probably required that infiltration technique. 

Another video from the previous evening is also worth posting, as well. This one shows a pair of MH-60s landing in succession on a Downtown Los Angeles street, at 1136 Wilshire Blvd to be exact, and picking up full loads of operators that appear to be carrying a couple heavy objects. 

Here is the building the special operations soldiers were in before being picked up. It may be empty based on the information we can find, which makes sense.

Google Earth
Google Earth

Some have asked me if the Army would tell local news helicopters that they wanted to be left alone. That clearly isn't the case judging by the video we are seeing here, in addition to other footage that only aired live. But the radio call posted below that was made just as the exercise was beginning on Tuesday night makes it abundantly clear that 160th SOAR pilots could care less about the news choppers, as long as they didn't get in their way. 

There are still a few nights of the training to go in and around Downtown Los Angeles. Long Beach is another area that local authorities disclosed would be used for similar training as what we are seeing in Los Angeles, and live explosives will be used as well. Considering that Long Beach is a huge port, it will likely serve as an ideal training ground for scenarios that include expansive shipping facilities and vessels—an ideal playground for U.S. Navy SEALs.

We will keep you informed as the high-profile exercise continues to unfold.

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