Combat controllers from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron work with Chilean military personnel as they fast-rope from a CV-22 Osprey during the Emerald Warrior exercises near Hurlburt Field in Florida. While the fast-rope, rappelling warfare exercise is fascinating, the begging question is where do the glowing rings come from?

Most helicopter blades are equipped with an abrasion strip along the leading edge to reduce degradation. This strip is typically made from a strong, lightweight metal like titanium or nickel and prevents the edge of the blade from being worn down by particles in the atmosphere like sand, dust, and even water.

So intense are the forces at which the particles collide with this strip that tiny bits of metal will erode away and fly into the air. These metallic particles will literally spontaneously combust due to the extreme pressure. The resulting flaming cloud of metallic dust creates a phenomenon known as the Kopp-Etchells Effect which was first documented during combat operations in Afghanistan. The photographer Michael Yon named the effect after two soldiers who died there, Kopp, a US Ranger, and Etchells, a British soldier.

Footage from on the ground and behind the night vision goggles displays an equally impressive show as military personnel drop fast-rope from the CV-22 Osprey during both the day and night.

Exercise Emerald Warrior leverages lessons learned from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom to provide trained and ready soldiers to combatant commanders. The Department of Defense’s irregular warfare exercise uses both live and virtual forces allowing joint and combined partners to train together and prepare for real-world contingency operations.

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The exercise provides tactical airlift, fires support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, including 90 live aircraft players and 17 virtual aircraft players from active-duty, guard and reserve units on the ground and in command and control elements.

You can also check out theses cool scenes of Emerald Warrior exercises as UH-60 Black Hawks and CH-47 Chinooks drop troops into the Santa Rosa Sound during helocast training.

Photo: U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army


Chris is a pilot who loves airplanes and cars and his writing has been seen on Jalopnik. Contact him with questions or comments via twitter or email.

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