What Happened Over LA ? - '' They Circled For Hours ''
Countrywide Booms Followed by Black Choppers Above Los Angeles.
This was no exercise, a retired Air Force veteran told us, and exercises in a densely populated civilian area is not standard practice. Consider the raid on Osama Bin Ladin's compound in Pakistan in 2011. A full-size reproduction of the compound was created in a secluded, secure, and unknown location prior to the raid.
They practiced the infiltration and exfiltration in this reproduction compound before executing the operation. If they wanted to perform an exercise for urban tactics they would have created a location similar to the area of operation. Also, with the Bin Ladin raid, we suffered a mechanical failure of one of the helicopters. The helicopter was subsequently destroyed by the military to prevent it from falling into foreign hands.
The point here is mechanical and human failures can occur during operations and more so during exercises when a team is familiarizing themselves with the locale. A "lights out" operation of any kind within the US requires an FAA exemption. Lights Out operations are covered nicely in an Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association document that you can find here: https://www.aopa.org/-/media/files/aopa/home/pilot-resources/safety-and-proficiency/operations/lights-out-approved-military-operations-areas/sa21.pdf?la=en
A quick summary of what the FAA will approve for Lights Out operations in the US include; the area must be in a designated MOA (Military Operations Area), a notam filing would have been required 48-hours in advance of the Lights Out operation, and the ATC facilities around the area must be notified at the beginning and end of a Lights Out operation.
I have been unable to find a notam filed for this activity. If someone else finds one could you please share it? The reason I impress upon the Lights Out operation is the Blackhawks came in with Lights Out. If this were an exercise I see no need to have the first four helicopters enter the area of operation with lights on followed by the Blackhawks with lights out. This was an operation done under the guise of an exercise. Given my military experience and familiarity with planning, coordinating, and executing exercises this was not an exercise. What task was being accomplished I wouldn't want to guess.
But again I do not see the military risking an incident with military aircraft in a constrained space where there is the potential for loss of civilian life to perform an exercise when there are proven alternatives.