The photo was captured by an Airman 1st Class back in September and recently released by the USAF. It shows the shadowy figure of a hovering HH-60 Pave Hawk deployed with the 33rd Rescue Squadron based at Kadena Air Base in Japan. It also the shadowy figures of a couple of U.S. Marines in an apparent mid-air embrace, floating right under the helicopter.
If you look close enough (click main photo to enlarge) you can see a cable that connects the two to the helicopter. That’s because, unlike what the eyes would tell you, the two are not floating aimlessly under the helicopter, but are being hoisted up during a training mission.
The op took place at Camp Gonsalves in Japan and involved the usual trials and tribulations: low-level flying, hoisting, water operations and entering contested environments. All are operations the Pave Hawk is perfectly suited to perform.
Tracing its lineage back to the 1980s, the helicopter (HH-60G) was born to operate behind enemy lines, being capable of flying at speeds of 221 mph (357 kph) and repelling enemy forces using M2 Browning machine guns.
As is, the Pave Hawk is slowly exiting the scene, as the American military is planning to replace it with the new, Black Hawk-based Jolly Green II (HH-60W).