Aside from the news on May 2nd that the US Navy SEAL Team 6 finally bagged Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. This raid, by accident; revealed some new US technology that we REALLY didn't want the rest of the world to know about just yet.
But,you know, when Murphy's Law get involved, accidents happen. Such is the case with one of two stealth helicopters used in that May 2, 2011 raid. Associated Press and European Press Agency photographers manage to get pictures of pieces of the wreck before Pakistan forces picked them up, and trucked them off. No doubt - to China.
As to what the final appearance of the helicopters look like - leading contender is a upgraded, stealth-optimized MH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. And that goes along with what CIA director Leon Panetta's assertion of May 3rd that the 25-man strong strike team was "carried in two Blackhawk helicopters that went in."
By the way, this blogger thinks there was a backup helicopter - just in case that there was problems with one of the other mission helicopters. One Blackhawk cannot carry 25 troops/crew, plus their weapons. There had to be something else to get the entire team plus the down helicopter crew out of that compound.
Sean Naylor of Army Times backs up this conclusion. Naylor quotes a retired Special Forces aviator saying the special Blackhawk, modified by Lockheed Martin, had the hard edges similar to the F-117 stealth fighter (also from Lockheed Martin).
Also, there is no doubt in my mind that these aircraft were flown by the pilots of the 160th Special Operations aviation regiment. They get some of the nicest toys to play with.
What this blogger found amushing was the following paragraph from the Wired article that I got this information from. quote: According to a source who spoke to our own Spencer Ackerman, the modifications might have taken place with the help of a mysterious Army organization called the “Technology Applications Program Office,” located at Fort Eustis, Virginia. The rumored nickname? Airwolf. That’s right, like the cheesy ‘80 TV show. end quote.
Hey, I'm a big Airwolf fan! Hell yeah if this baby is finally shown off to the public - I'm all for it to be the official name for this helicopter.
Aviation artist Ugo Crisponi produced a quick rendering of what the secret chopper (and that was included in the wired article). Then from Globalsecurity.org, John Pike talked about the "MH-X" project from the 1980s.
Elements from the RAH-66 Commanche project appeared to have made their way over to this new MH-X "Airwolf." The Commanche was killed off in 2004. It might actually ahve been a cover project for this MH-X project and was no longer needed - so that is why the Commanche was killed off.
Going by the Wired article, these special helicopters are not very many in numbers. In fact, they operate out of "Area 51" in Nevada.
Aviation Weeks's Bill Sweetman stated the following: the fact that the Pentagon was willing to risk its most secret whirlybird “shows the importance of the mission in the eyes of U.S. commanders." end quote.
The world's FIRST radar-evading helicopter proves that the USA still has the lead when it comes to designing helicopters - no decay there.
Our Special Forces has the ability to now strike fast and most important; unseen - all over the world.
MH-X Airwolf. I like the sound of that.
1. Wired.com. "Aviation Geeks Scramble to ID bin Laden Raid’s Mystery Copter" by David Axe. May 4, 2011. (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/05/aviation-geeks-scramble-to-i-d-osama-raids-mystery-copter/).
2. Wired.com "" by David Axe. May 4, 2011. (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/05/aviation-geeks-scramble-to-i-d-osama-raids-mystery-copter/3/).
3. images from the same articles (Reuters, Associated PRess), artwork by David Cenciotti.
4. Flight Gobal. "Secret helicopter revealed in bin Laden op?" by Stephen Trimble. May 3, 2011. (http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2011/05/secret-helicopter-revealed-in.html).