The mysterious helicopter involved in the Osama Bin Laden raid

May 03 2011 - 53 Comments

Part 2: Exclusive new picture and a serial number on a piece of the broken helo

When I read the news reports describing the operation the US Special Forces conducted in Pakistan to catch Osama Bin Laden I wasn’t particularly surprised to read that a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter carrying the Navy Seals crashed. What struck me were actually the pictures that were published by the Daily Mail (thanks to Giuliano Ranieri for the heads up!). They show what should be the remains of the Black Hawk crashed during the raid that killed Bin Laden on May 2, 2011, at Abottaville, north of Islamabad, Pakistan (officially, after experiencing a mechanical fault). Military on board the helicopter escaped safely on another helo while the downed one was destroyed leaving only few parts near the Bin Laden’s compound.

However, the depicted horizontal stabiliser and tail rotor of the wreckage don’t seem to be a any form of H-60. Both the shape and position are not common to either Black Hawks or Apaches helicopters. Noteworthy, the tail rotor has a weird cover that could be anything from a stealth cover, to an armour plate to a noise reduction device.

So, to answer to the many questions I’ve already received on Twitter: it can be either a modified existing type (to such an extent it is almost unrecognizable) or a brand new type (that was in fact destroyed before it could go in the wrong hands). I can’t either completely rule out the possibility that the one depicted in the pictures is not a conventional helicopter but some sort of decoy, an UAV or a reproduction…..

By the way, that’s not the only weird thing in the raid and many details of the story still have to be clarified. For example, official reports mentions four helicopters involved in the operation, without mentioning any support asset: I can’t believe no AWACS (E-3 or E-2) were involved providing the “picture”, as the risk of a Pakistan Air Force reaction was high. Furthermore, did the border radars see the formation entering the Pakistani airspace? If not, most probably it is because radars were deceived/jammed by (prob.) EA-6B or EA-18G flying in the Afghan airspace.