The Black Hawk Security Helicopters


A fleet of four Black Hawk helicopters, stationed at the north end of the base, provide air security around Area 51. More accurately they are Sikorsky HH-60U, a new and upgraded version of the Black Hawk. Only four HH-60U exist, all of them at Area 51. They were coverted in 2011 from U.S. Army HH-60M, originally developed to guard U.S. nuclear missile sites. The exact date is unknown, but it is likely that they replaced the older generation MH-60G Pave Hawk around 2011 or 2012. Scroll down for some photos and registration numbers of the older Pave Hawks. The MH-60G had a retractable in-flight refueling probe that was often mistaken for a large gun by visitors to the area. The new HH-60U does not have a refueling probe.

Several times daily the Black Hawk Helicopter can be seen doing its rounds out of the base and across Tikaboo Valley, patrolling the Area 51 perimeter. Visitors in the early 1990's report the Black Hawk would sometimes "sandblast" curious tourists. We are not aware of any such instances in recent years. However, the chopper may come out to investigate if curious visitors explore sensitive areas where it is difficult for ground-based security to keep track of them.

One such area is Roadblock Canyon, where access to the old trail up to Freedom Ridge has been blocked by an artificial rockslide blocking the road in a canyon. Of course access to Freedom Ridge is no longer possible after the 1995 land withdrawal, but for several reasons it is still a rather interesting (and sensitive) area. It is very easy there to disappear from view of the watchful eye of the Cammos.

HH-60U currently in use at Area 51

Serial #Contract yearTypeUnitStatus
10-203212010HH-60UAFTC Det.3Active
10-203222010HH-60UAFTC Det.3Active
10-203232010HH-60UAFTC Det.3Active
10-203242010HH-60UAFTC Det.3Active

One of the Area 51 choppers, 10-20323, dropping off a patient at Centennial Hospital in Las Vegas, 08/07/2019. Click to enlarge.
Photos by Kris.


Older MH-60G Pave Hawk, no longer in use

Serial #Contract yearTypeUnitStatus
90-262221990MH-60G (mod. to L)Ogden ALC, UT (Air Logistics Center)Visually confirmed, 01/2001, no longer active
90-262231990MH-60G (mod. to L)Ogden ALC, UT (Air Logistics Center)Visually confirmed, 05/29/2003, no longer active
91-263521991MH-60G (mod. to L)Ogden ALC, UT (Air Logistics Center)Visually confirmed, 04/2004, no longer active

Ogden ALC is part of Hill AFB, UT, which seems to have some kind of connection to Groom. Ogden uses the tail code "HAFB" for fixed-wing planes. Please let us know if you see any planes with that tail code in the Groom Area. Note the four letter code, as opposed to the usual two letter tail codes (like HI and HL for other units of Hill AFB).


Photos (click to enlarge)


General Characteristics of the MH-60G Pave Hawk:

Primary Function: Infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces in day, night or marginal weather conditions.
Builder: Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.
Power Plant: Two General Electric T700-GE-701C engines
Thrust: 1,630 shaft horsepower, each engine
Length: 64 feet, 8 inches (17.1 meters)
Height: 16 feet, 8 inches (4.4 meters)
Rotary Diameter: 53 feet, 7 inches (14.1 meters)
Speed: 184 mph (294.4 kph)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 22,000 pounds (9,900 kilograms)
Range: 445 statute miles; 504 nautical miles (unlimited with air refueling)
Armament: Two 7.62mm mini-guns
Unit Cost: $10.1 million (1992 dollars)
Crew: Two pilots, one flight engineer and one gunner
Seating capacity: 14 to 17
Date Deployed: 1982


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