Background on the Black Hawk

The Army's Black Hawk helicopter is one of the military's work horses.

According to the Army, the UH 60 went into service in 1979, replacing the long serving Huey. Among its wide range of uses, the Black Hawk has been used for special operations support, medical evacuations and air assaults on targets.

Upwards of 11 infantry members can lift off in the chopper, and the Army notes the construction of the craft helps if a crash occurs.

"The aircraft's critical components and systems are armored or redundant, and its airframe is designed to progressively crush on impact to protect the crew and passengers," according to the Army's online "Fact Files."

Weighing in at 22,000 pounds, the twin-engine helicopter can travel up to 151 knots (174 mph) according to Sikorsky Technologies.

Black Hawks have been involved in a number of major military operations. In 1983, they first saw service in the invasion of Grenada. The Panama invasion in 1989 also featured Black Hawks.

Maybe most famously, the choppers were used in the American assault on Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, in 1993. The feature film, Black Hawk Down, was based on that operation.

Black Hawks are also currently in action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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