Commandos made off with potentially valuable intel
by DAVID CENCIOTTI
A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor that was supporting the first known American counterterrorism operation under U.S. president Donald Trump crash-landed in Yemen and was later destroyed in a U.S. air raid.
Early in the morning on Jan. 29, 2017, U.S. Special Operations Forces targets Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen in a predawn raid. One American commando was killed and three others were injured in a fierce firefight.
The surprise attack was carried out by commandos from the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 in Bayda province. The SEALs reportedly killed 14 militants.
It’s not clear which aircraft supported the raid. What has been confirmed is that a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 was called in to evacuate wounded American troops. The V-22 crash-landed, injuring as many as two service members.
U.S. warplanes destroyed the crashed tiltrotor once it was determined that it could not leave the crash landing site.
This is not the first time a U.S. vertical-lift aircraft supporting a Special Operation has crash-landed in hostile territory.
On May 2, 2011, one of the helicopters transporting U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 in the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden crash landed near the Al-Qaeda leader’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. That crash betrayed the existence of a Stealth Black Hawk, a.k.a. MH-X.
Military personnel on board the helicopter escaped safely on another aircraft. U.S. forces destroyed the downed copter, leaving behind only few parts. Those parts didn’t seem to belong to any helicopter type known to the public.
In particular, the tail rotor featured an unusual cover that could be anything from an armor plate to a noise-reduction device. Moreover, the tail rotor’s blades were flatter than those on other helicopters. The mystery aircraft’s paint job was similar to that on stealth fighters.
With regards to the Jan. 29, 2017 raid, it’s worth noting that U.S. ground forces carried out the raid rather than relying on drones to surveil and strike suspected militants.
Between Jan. 20 and 22, 2017, U.S. unmanned strikes killed five terrorists in Yemen.
It seems that this time, U.S. troops seized the militants’ laptops, smartphones and other material. The intel haul perhaps justified the risky and costly deployment of ground forces.