What’s the type of helicopter hidden below a protective cover?
A reader sent us this photo he took from his car of a helicopter being moved on trailer not far from Sikorsky plant in Stratford.
Here’s what the reader wrote to describe the scene he witnessed on Jul. 30:
“[…]. The reason I took a picture of this is that I’ve seen them put UH-60’s without covers on trailers, and this time, there was a convoy of probably 4 hummers and 2 deuce & a half’s I saw in the vicinity, as well. It was unusual – especially at 1545 on a Wednesday.”
Even though the chopper is hidden below a protective covering, its shape can be guessed: based on the position of the tail boom in relation to the cabin and the tail boom angling we can say it has something in common with the U.S. UH-60 Black Hawk.
“I’ve seen and experienced how they transport aircraft/inventory that is most likely categorized at the SCI level – They get about 20 DoD Dodge Chargers with take downs and spot lights on everywhere, they shut down every on/off ramp for about 5 miles in front and behind the cargo, and set up a “dome of light” so it’s difficult to see the angles of the “cargo”.”
So, is it a UH-60?
Most probably, yes. Still, we can’t exclude is a mock-up, a movie prop or something else.
This week, Sikorsky is expected to start the assembly of the S-97 Raider helicopter prototype, Defense News reports.
The helicopter, among the choppers pitched for the U.S. Army’s Armed Aerial Scout program, to replace the Army’s aging fleet of OH-58 Kiowa Warriors, in use since the late 1960s, features a futuristic shape (compared to that of current helos) and is based on Sikorsky’s X-2 technology.
The S-97 will be a high-speed helicopter with coaxial main rotors and pusher propeller with a capability to either accomodate six troops or sensor in addition to the two pilots in the typical side-by-side cockpit.
The image of the first fuselage, released by Sikorsky, brings to light some interesting details about the Raider and a loose similarity with the MH-X Stealth Black Hawk helicopter exposed by the Osama Bin Laden raid.
Not only the Raider’s nose section is compatible with the concept I developed with AviationGraphic’s Ugo Crisponi in 2011 but the new chopper features a retractable landing gear is a feature that we thought was among the things that could keep the MH-X stealth and silent.
Most probably the MH-X (whose shape remains unknown) is different from the S-97, however it is safe to believe tha Sikorsky has embedded some of the features developed for the secret, radar evading U.S. Army Stealth Black Hawk used by the Navy SEALs at Abbottabad in May 2011, in the new chopper pitched to the Army.
Douglass has published a detailed analysis of the image (including its EXIF file – that dates the image to May 2008….) on his site. This author calls it a fake because, among the other things, the nose cose is somehow irregular as if it was hand-modified.