Operation Mount Hope III was a secret operation conducted by the United States in 1988 with the goal of retrieving a crashed Soviet-made Mil Mi-25 “Hind D” attack helicopter.
The helicopter in question had made a forced landing during the Libya-Chad conflict in the mid-1980s. While the crew was picked up by Libyan forces, the helicopter itself was left behind. It was a variant of the Hind that the United States had not previously had access to, and the Pentagon was interested in retrieving it for intelligence purposes.
To conduct the operation, the U.S. made use of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter, known for its heavy-lifting capabilities. The operation required the Chinook to fly a round trip of approximately 500 miles in a desert environment, much of it at night. The Chinook was equipped with extra fuel tanks to enable this long-distance flight.
Once the Chinook arrived at the site of the abandoned Hind, the crew had to dismantle the wings of the Hind so that it could be airlifted. After securing the Hind, the Chinook flew back to a forward operating base in Chad, where the Hind was loaded onto a C-5 Galaxy for transport back to the United States.
The entire operation was conducted without the knowledge of the Libyan government, and no shots were fired during the mission. It was considered a significant success, both for the intelligence gathered from the Hind and for the demonstration of the capabilities of the U.S. military.
After the operation, the helicopter was shipped to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center in Ohio, where it was carefully analyzed by American experts to gain insights about Soviet military technology. The details of Operation Mount Hope III remained classified until 1992.
Department of the Army records on Operation Mount Hope III [40 Pages, 13.53mb] – Includes what appears to be a slide presentation on the Operation briefing, and a 2 page summary as well.