Operation Eagle Claw Failure

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Operation Eagle Claw saw the attempted use of aircraft to perform a highly sophisticated, joint force, nighttime hostage rescue in a hostile country. The mission was a failure, with only 5 of the eight RH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters arriving to the forward staging area. Further exasperating the mission failure was the collision of an RH-53D and a C-130 cargo plane while conducting refueling operations for the mission, resulting in 8 casualties. Following the April 1980 failure of Operation Eagle Claw, the attempted U.S. hostage rescue in Iran, President Carter appointed Admiral James L. Holloway III, the former Chief of Naval Operations to head a commission to study the deficiencies revealed by the operation (Federal Research…show more content…
Mission set number one was to provide MH47’s to support the pre-H-hour attack of Iraqi air defense ground control intercept sites, and to provide fuel bladder aircraft to refuel AH-64 attack helicopters from the 101st Airborne Division (Federal Research Division, 2010). The second mission set was to provide Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) coverage while forward deployed to Rafha in case any allied aircraft were to be shot down. The 160th only performed 1 CSAR mission on February 17th, 1991 after an F16 was shot down in Iraq. The 160th received the call and planned a zig-zag course through the Iraqi radar to retrieve the pilot. The first MH60 could not launch due to a maintenance issue, so the backup aircraft launched in its place. The MH60 could not locate the downed pilot at his reported location, even under NVG’s until he used his landing light to spot him. The Iraqis spotted the landing light and immediately attempted to shoot down the Black Hawk, which caused the 160th pilots to evade and break a missile lock by flying 20 feet AGL and 140kts while dropping behind a small hill. Once the pilot was recovered, the pilots began the flight back using the same low and fast flight profile they had used earlier while again dodging a missile that eventually lost power and fell short allowing them to return safely (Federal Research Division, 2010). Additionally, the Task Force was responsible for infiltrating and exfiltrating various special forces elements inside Iraq. On one notable mission occurred one day prior to the start of Operation Desert Storm, on 23 February 1991. During this mission a special forces team almost 200 miles into Iraqi territory had been compromised by local villagers. The team radioed for emergency extraction as the villagers were beginning to attack their position. The 160th responded by launching a pair of MH60
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