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?

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

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. I think it’s a mock-up for the upcoming Zero Dark Thirty movie.
    Too many details that are F117 related (just like the 4-redundant air speed sensor) and triangle shaping of the canopy glass. Old stuff and old stealth design school. Note that the main rotor assembly it’s not totally covered just like the RAH 66 used to have. Great RCS amplifier that spot. BTW it seems to be a very cool mock-up. Great photo.

  2. All I know is for the sake of that kids career I hope its a prop. If that is for real, id hate to be him.

  3. Interesting.

    He’s wearing the 29th ID patch on his sleeve. That’s a guard division, but some units were deployed to Afghanistan in April, when the photo was apparently taken. There were, for example, 65 guardsmen deployed for nine months in a high-level advisory capacity – a mixed team of officers and NCOs – who returned on July 14th. If the photo was posted shortly thereafter, it might make it a little more plausible – these guys might have had (a) access to restricted areas (b) no actual connection with the assets or missions, and hence (c) a lack of comprehension of just how vital secrecy might be. Could a specialist have done something this dumb? (Have you ever met a SPC?)

    On the other hand, the idea that the film – which was shot in India – would have had logistical support from a VA/MD guard unit is kinda crazy. As, I have to say, is the idea that this guy was an actor in a costume. If you’re shooting a SPECOPS film, why stick a guardsman in it?

    Which isn’t to say that it’s necessarily authentic. Someone else might have mocked one of these things up. It could be an early, unknown, experimental model, long since mothballed, around which security is correspondingly lax.

    But it’s tantalizing.

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