Once in a while, a crazy photo comes across my screen that seems too cool to be true. This was the case this afternoon when I saw a picture of an MH-6 Little Bird hovering in the dead of night over the Port Of Long Beach as special operators begin to fast rope to whatever laid below. At first glance, the photo looked like a fake, as it is shot at nearly eye level and capturing what would be largely invisible for even the naked eye to full take in, but on closer examination, I was able to geolocate the photo exactly where the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR)—better known as the Night Stalkers—were thought to be working last night, over the western tip of Long Beach Harbor.
The Night Stalkers have been executing a high profile exercise in the Los Angeles area since Monday evening when the tell-tale signs of their arrival mysteriously began to materialize on plane tracking software. Since then we have reported on Little Birds buzzing down the streets of Downtown Los Angeles at treetop level and MH-6s and MH-60s making incredible formation landings on various roads and structures around big landmarks, like the Staples Center. You can read all about why the 160th does this type of training and where they tend to do it in this past piece of ours. But last night the action clearly moved to Long Beach as plane trackers showed the various fixed-wing surveillance assets, namely a P-8 Poseidon and a pair of U-28s—set up large circular orbits over the harbor there. This incredible photo offers a far more intimate view of what the shadowy unit and their special operator 'customers' were up to while there.
You can see precisely where the photo was taken in the Google Earth and Google Maps imagery below. The building used was the Port Of Long Beach Administrative Building, a seven-story structure not far from the Queen Mary.
After digging a bit deeper into youtube, we came across a local CBS affiliate's video showing the same building being used last night for the training, including explosive breaching operations:
As for what unit the special operators hitching a ride of the Little Bird belong to, we can't say for certain. But their quad-tube night-vision goggles, HK416 rifles, and attire seem to point to SEAL Team Six, also known as DEVGRU. Being the Navy's top counter-terrorism unit, and considering the port setting that last night's drills took place in, this really wouldn't be much of a surprise.
It's also worth noting that the Little Bird appears to have some sort of nose art right above their FLIR sensor, although we can't make out exactly what it depicts.
The Night Stalkers and special operators are slated to continue with their training around the Los Angeles area through Saturday, and considering the amazing visuals that have come out of the exercise so far, this probably won't be our last report on the topic!
A hat tip to @chairmanhao19 for giving us a heads up about this awesome image.
Update: 9:37pm PST—
Many of our wonderful readers chimed in with an answer to the nose art question regarding this Little Bird. It turns out the Night Stalkers have an affinity to 1990s pop culture!
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com