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Mosquitoes

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Kiowa Warrior helicopter swoops low over the battlefield on this dark night.  The pilots are wearing extremely sensitive night vision goggles and will have no problems seeing us.  To avoid being shot down, they fly blacked out using only infrared lights to avoid collisions.   When there is little illumination they might be seen only in silhouette, or not at all.

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My specially modified camera gear can capture their IR signatures, but the Kiowa Warriors fly fast and low, and are difficult to frame in the dark.

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Persistence pays.

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Iraqi insurgents often called these Kiowa Warrior helicopters “Mosquitoes.”  The Taliban curse them.

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A fire burns in a next-door compound.  The source had been an enemy tracer bullet many hours earlier which ignited hay during a firefight.  The fire is described with more images in my dispatch Tracer Burnout.

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The bright spot is invisible to the naked eye.  Still far away, a CH-47 helicopter is approaching during the night to deliver a resupply to our location.  Soldiers on this Afghan rooftop who are wearing PVS-14 night vision gear suddenly say that the helicopter is lasing us with the IR laser.  They joke that they have gone blind.

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While the laser-wielding helicopter flies toward us, another aircraft leaves a trace.  Soon, the CH-47 is hovering just outside our compound, making a faint Kopp-Etchells glow as the rotors beat dust.  The satcomm antenna beside me is blown down while the helicopter drops the sling load and disappears into the night.

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