Is this the first leaked image of a new U.S. Stealth Helicopter or just a model used for a new Osama Bin Laden movie?

Aug 07 2012 - 40 Comments

Update Aug. 7, 2012 23.45 GMT

Read the comment thread for more information about the helicopter, identified as prop.

Although I’m not sure the one depicted in the photo below is really a new stealth chopper like the one exposed by the Osama Bin Laden raid in May 2011, I find the following image extremely interesting.

It shows a U.S. soldier posing in front of a seemingly radar-evading helicopter that doesn’t remind me any known type of American helo.

The image file seems to be genuine and includes seemigly valid EXIF data (see below for details). I’ve just blurred the nametag and face of the U.S. Army serviceman (until I’m able to contact the user who uploaded it to ask him some questions – so far I’ve got no answer) just in case the image was leaked by accident on the Internet for anyone to see, share, download etc.

However, since it’s hard to believe that anyone would post a picture of a secret chopper online posing next to it, the helicopter in the image, with some typical stealth features (including an F-117 type of nose as the one designed in 1978 for the stealth UH-60), could just be a full scale model used for a movie.

Indeed, a new movie titled Zero Dark Thirty, is due out Dec. 19. It will recall the chronicle of the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. Here’s the film’s teaser trailer.

Is the one in the picture the fictional chopper used in the new movie or something else?

Don’t you think it has something in common with the famous Stealth Black Hawk design I made with Ugo Crisponi?

What’s your opinion?

Anyway, here’s the EXIF data embedded in the image:

File Name: DSCN1884.jpg

File Size: 238 kb – 1024 x 768

Camera Make: NIKON

Camera Model: COOLPIX S8100

Date/Time: 2012:04:23 23:53:23

Resolution: 1024 x 768

Flash Used: No (auto)

Focal Length: 5.4mm (35mm equivalent: 30mm)

Exposure Time: 0.023 s (1/43)

Aperture: f/3.5

ISO Equiv.: 160

Whitebalance: Auto

Metering Mode: pattern

Exposure: program (auto)

H/T to Giuliano Ranieri for the heads-up

  • I go for a mock-up or prop to be used for a movie. Seems to me the four “probes” on the nose depict cannon or such. Looks like the F-117 nose with four cannons glued on for effect.


    It is a prop but is indeed as publicly described for the first version by a certain retiree. The one used in the raid has newer add-ons.

  • pew pew

    check the trailer for zero dark thirty .. at 30 seconds you see the same warehouse with the helicopter

  • razied

    just take a loot at this trailer. seconds 0:30 and 0:38. there is this “new secret helicopter”

  • xander

    The F-117’s craggy shape that is supposedly providing stealth capabilities has been replaced by more advanced coating and surface splines like on the F-35, has it not? If so, it seems more like this helicopter is hobbyist object.

  • Prop all the way. Isn’t the thing up on blocks? What’s the storyline – farmer builds stealth helicopter in his barn and goes out to fight crime? Is this an Airwolf reboot?

  • Doc Brown

    Sorry, any blind man can tell it’s photoshopped (a Photochopper? Or indeed a Photocopter? Whatever). The heli doesn’t have a proper shadow to match the ones of the crates in the background – it seems to have no shadow at all. Now that’s what I call stealth! Plus the sharpness of the edges of the nose doesn’t comply with the depth of field of the picture. And the edges of the soldier, especially of his right arm, are too crisp in relation to the heli.
    It’s a well done fake, but not perfect.

    • MrSatyre

      Ah, the “experts” chime in! Why is everything they cannot understand automatically ‘shopped? The shadows of the crates in the background are to the left, in line with the light issuing from the open hanger doors which are out of line of sight, while the soldier’s shadow is directly behind him, also suggests strong lighting from the front (another set of open hanger doors). That would make the copter’s shadow, which is partly visible to the right, right on target. The sharpness of the nose does comply with depth of field. It’s in the foreground, so it’s going to be sharper. Also, the camera used has selectable focusing targets, so if one or several were either automatically or manually addressed to the nose of the copter, that would make it appear sharper than the arm of the soldier.

  • Dirk

    Its not going to have a shadow. its a STEALTH helicoptor! DUH!

  • dirk wins with his DUH! comment…

    The F117’s shape is dictated by the limits of computing power in the 70’s. Notice the rotor has a conventionally flat edge? That’s bad for radar reflections and defeats the purpose of the cockpit. The interior and rear fuselage are also suspect. The forward-pointing tubes should be antennae on an F117, but they look like cannon here. As guns they don’t make much sense for a transport copter’s mission. As antennae, they should be pointing upwards on a design intended for NOE covert troop transport missions.

    Those boxes in the background could be anything, but they look suspiciously like the boxes that studio-grade movie cameras are stored and transported in.

    What I’m seeing is a “kitbashed” helicopter. Much like Airwolf or Blue Thunder, they’ve taken a commercial design and prettied it up to correspond with what the movie-going audience would expect a stealth copter to look like.

    All they need to do is stencil “Marine One” on it and they’ll be ready to show the President riding along on his famous mission!

  • I think this is the most interesting comment thread since I posted the rendering of the real Stealth Black Hawk:
    and the images of the RQ-170 captured by Iran:

    Weirdly the fact that the aircraft is actually a prop was clearly showed in the very first comments, but readers have continued to provide their interesting opinions.

  • The solider in the picture is wearing a patch from the 29th Infantry Division of the US Army National Guard. I don’t think they where involved with the actual mission for Bin Laden, but they might have been involved with the movie as extras, and got to take som behind the scenes photos?

  • Ben Rich

    The four probes on the leading edges of the F-117 are neither cannon nor antennae, but rather pitot probes, IIRC.

  • The Soldier’s patch indicates he was from the 29th Infantry Division, a unit present in Afghanistan in the same location as the 160th SOAR(A), Kandahar airfield, during the OBL raid, but they returned before the photo was taken. The cowling above and to the right of the Soldier’s head is very similar to the one used on the UH/MH-60 helicopters when deployed to a sandy environment. See: The cowling in front and to the rear of the main rotor mast and PC links in the rotor head does look a bit computer generated, but maybe that’s the way the light is hitting it. It might be a UH-60 photo that someone doctored.

    • Sgt Slaughter

      Only one problem with that theory.
      As of 2011 every unit deploying to Afghanistan received a full RFI of OCP gear and were required to wear them in theatre. Meaning, this is a fake, or that Specialist is wrong as hell for being out of uniform on duty.
      Plus, BAGRAM JBAD was part of 160th’s AOR. The fact that he’s not in OCP (the Multicam pattern uniform) implies to me that he is not in country.
      He’s more likely at APG in maryland rolling through the relic museum haha.

  • John Manci

    Congratulations. You have a photo of the movie prop out of the movie Zero Dark Thirty.

    • cencio4

      Thank you John, but if you read the article you’d know the fact it was a prop was determined in Aug. 2012

  • disqus_KWjIgq0FFd

    How about this,since I live close to the Base and am a Marine Vet why don’t I ask some of the Higher ups since we only got one left to take some pics, so it can get leaked to the Media, and it gets sent on a mission, shot down, all because everyone’s curiosity, It’s not the public’s business, sorry, leave it alone, and whoever leaked Seal Team Six should be found and Prosecuted,but with politics they’ll make money off this just like they do off our hard working backs!!! Semper FI