Is this the first daylight photo of a Stealth helicopter involved in the Bin Laden raid?

The answer is most probably: No, it isn’t.

The image that has been circulating on the Internet after Steve Douglass published it on his blog is nothing more than a Photoshopped photograph: at first glance it may look genuine, but it is a standard Black Hawk, digitally modified to make it similar to the prop used for the movie Zero Dark Thirty.

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Image via Steve Douglass

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.

As soon as the images of the actual Stealth Black Hawk crash landed inside the compound at Abbottabad during Operation Neptune’s Spear emerged, with the help of Ugo Crisponi, an artist at,we published a rendering of what the radar evading chopper might look like.

Here’s the first version:


And here’s the most recent one:


We still believe the MH-X looks like the above helicopter.

Until we receive a genuine image of the real Stealth Black Hawk!


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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. David,

    I have no reason (nor expertise or knowledge) to question the lower rendering. I still think that is the most accurate one that can be pieced together based off of OSINT and those with expertise in helicopter aviation. However, there is one thing that leads me to think this bird may look like something in between these two renderings – a hybrid that has that stereotypical “stealth” look but doesn’t require extensive structural mods, perhaps? I dunno.The reason I think this is because of a quote from the ST6 member known as “The Shooter” in Esquire. From the article:

    “When we got to Nevada a few days later, where the team trained on another full-scale compound model, but this one crudely fashioned from shipping containers, we turned the corner, saw the helos we’d actually use, and I started laughing. I told the guys, ‘The odds just changed. There’s a 90 percent chance we’ll survive.’ They asked why. I said, ‘I didn’t know they were sending us to war on a fucking Decepticon.'”

    So, one, assume this excerpt as truth. This bird looked like a freak of nature when the operators first got a look. It wasn’t just some updated version of equipment these teams use on a regular basis. To me, I read this as someone who saw a helicopter that looked very very different. Not just some modification. Thus, this leads me to think there’s more to the bottom rendering.


    • Yes by the sound of that it sounds very special indeed. Im still not convinced that we talking about a black hawk. Just because they report how many troops and helis they went in doesnt mean its entire picture is truth, but possible sligthly modifed to hide technology. Why im saying this is, granted this is from a total beginner, but if you look at the back rotor its smaller then a normal back rotor for a black hawk. Doesnt this mean it push less air? If it push less air doesnt the main rotor need to rotate slower? Hence main rotor is smaller aswell, and not as big as a black hawk. If the main rotor is smaller it cant take the same load, meaning smaller heli? Together with the fact the they blew this black hawk in a very small space with zero visible debris from the helicopter(except backrotor) but there was basically zero damage on the wall and other stuff around the heli. This points to a pretty small charge?

  2. A while back, a picture briefly appeared on the internet and then was removed at the request of the original poster. It was of an earlier generation UH-60 that was modified to reduce it’s radar signature. Having seen that picture, I’d suggest that the first drawing posted above may be somewhat accurate. The 2nd, not even close. Just my guess but I highly doubt that any “stealth” helo would have a fixed refueling boom and/or deployed miniguns. Those two items alone would pretty much negate any LO treatment applied to the helo.

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