Category Archives: Stealth Black Hawk

Five years ago today the raid that exposed the Stealth Black Hawk helicopter

Operation Neptune’s Spear exposed the existence of the MH-X Stealth Black Hawk helicopter.

The first photos from the Abbottabad compound where Osama Bin Laden had been killed early in the morning on May 2, 2011, clearly shows something never seen before: the remains of one of the helicopters used by the U.S. Navy SEALs in Operation “Neptune’s Spear”, didn’t seem to belong to any known type.

The horizontal stabilizer and tail rotor of the wreckage depicted in the photographs didn’t seem to be any form of H-60. Both the shape and position were not common to either Black Hawks helicopters and the tail rotor featured a weird cover that could be anything from a stealth cover, to an armour plate to a noise reduction device.

Based on the remains of the tail section this Author tried to imagine what the full stealthy chopper would have looked like after applying some upgrades needed to make it, if not radar-evading, at least a bit quieter.

With some imagination, engine shields, rotor covers, an extra main rotor blade (to slow down the rotor speed making blades quieter), RAM (Radar Absorbing Material) coating, straight lines and what had survived the attempt of the U.S. Navy Seals Team 6 to destroy the chopper, with the help of Ugo Crisponi, an artist at AviationGraphic.com, we created a sketch of the “black”, never seen before, helicopter (that actually resembled more an S-76 than a modified MH-60 Black Hawk so please have a look at a more reasonable shape here.)

obl-raid

Since then, little more has emerged about the black chopper until 2015, when a book titled “Relentless Strike” by Sean Naylor provided some new details about the history of the MH-X.

According to Naylor, the Stealth helicopters that took part in the raid were experimental choppers that had survived a program to make the Black Hawk less visible to radars. Tested by the 160th SOAR in Area 51, Nevada, before the program was cancelled, the two airframes were less maneuverable under certain conditions than the standard MH-60s because of the modifications. Still, in the wake of the successful raid in Pakistan, the program was exhumed, and the “Night Stalkers” flew their “new” MH-Xs to Syria where they took part in the failed raid to free captured American journalist James Foley and other captives from ISIS, on July 4th, 2014.

Although it has never been confirmed, the presence of the MH-X derivatives in Syria was also rumored in the aftermath of a daring raid that killed ISIS high level operative Abu Sayyaf at Deir Ezzor, southeast of Raqqa, in eastern Syria, in the night between May 15th and 16th.

New Sikorsky S-97 Raider similar to the mysterious Stealth “Osama Bin Laden raid” helicopter?

This week, Sikorsky is expected to start the assembly of the S-97 Raider helicopter prototype, Defense News reports.

The helicopter, among the choppers pitched for the U.S. Army’s Armed Aerial Scout program, to replace the Army’s aging fleet of OH-58 Kiowa Warriors, in use since the late 1960s, features a futuristic shape (compared to that of current helos) and is based on Sikorsky’s X-2 technology.

The S-97 will be a high-speed helicopter with coaxial main rotors and pusher propeller with a capability to either accomodate six troops or sensor in addition to the two pilots in the typical side-by-side cockpit.

The image of the first fuselage, released by Sikorsky, brings to light some interesting details about the Raider and a loose similarity with the MH-X Stealth Black Hawk helicopter exposed by the Osama Bin Laden raid.

Not only the Raider’s nose section is compatible with the concept I developed with AviationGraphic’s Ugo Crisponi in 2011 but the new chopper features a retractable landing gear is a feature that we thought was among the things that could keep the MH-X stealth and silent.

Most probably the MH-X (whose shape remains unknown) is different from the S-97, however it is safe to believe tha Sikorsky has embedded some of the features developed for the secret, radar evading U.S. Army Stealth Black Hawk used by the Navy SEALs at Abbottabad in May 2011, in the new chopper pitched to the Army.

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Mysterious helicopter emerges in China: a new, stolen model or a cloned Bin Laden raid’s stealth chopper?

An interesting image has emerged from the prolific Chinese Internet.

It depicts a mysterious helicopter being moved on a truck in China. Even if the aircraft is hidden below a protective covering, its shape can be guessed.

The chopper seems to have something in common with the U.S. UH-60 Black Hawk, hence it may be a Z-20, a Chinese model believed to be based on the S-70C, a medium transport/utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky already in service with the People’s Liberation Army.

However, there is another intriguing and (less likely) possibility: China has reverse-engineered the Stealth Black Hawk helicopter used by the Navy SEALs in the Osama Bin Laden raid.

Obviously this is a far fetched theory, since only a few chunks survived the crash landing at Abbottabad. Still, on Aug. 14, 2011, several media outlets all around the world, published the news that China was given access by Pakistani intelligence to the remains of the Stealth Black Hawk used during Operation Neptune’s Spear.

What if they copied the general design of the tail rotor and, just like this author did with Ugo Crisponi, designed a chopper whose shape is similar to the one of the U.S. black MH-X or the Israeli Stealth Yanshuf?

Image credit: via Chinese Military Aviation

 

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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.

close up

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 AviationGraphic.com,we published a rendering of what the radar evading chopper might look like.

Here’s the first version:

mh-x-2011_old

And here’s the most recent one:

MHX4_2012

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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Stealth Black Hawk prop exposed in the Osama Bin Laden raid movie trailer

Do you remember the photograph a U.S. soldier posing in front of a mysterious seemingly radar-evading chopper published on this site few months ago?

The helicopter, neither similar to any known type of American helo, was later identified as a prop, used for a new movie titled Zero Dark Thirty, due out Dec. 19.

The action movie will recall the chronicle of the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. Including the night of Operation Neptune’s Spear, when OBL was killed and a real Stealth Black Hawk crash landed inside the compound at Abbottabad.

The new trailer gives a hint at how the stealthy chopper has been imagined in Zero Dark Thirty.