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. 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?

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

  3. 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.

    • 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.

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

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

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