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.
On May 6, 2011, few days after Osama Bin Laden had been killed, I published an analysis of Operation Neptune’s Spear, with the assets involved in the raid, known and unknown facts (and some speculations).
Although “No Easy Day” does not provide much details about the Stealth Black Hawk exposed by raid, the U.S. Navy Seal Team Six operator’s first person recollection of the raid contains some interesting details about the way the operation was conducted, the most important of those is that the radar-evading choppers did not approach Abbottabad from the west, but from the east, with a presumed violation of India’s airspace.
“Presumed” because we can’t be sure New Dehli was not informed of the raid (even if it is quite unlikely, considered the secrecy surrounding the raid).
An interesting review of the book with the most interesting aviation-related details can be read on Aviationintel website.
Anyway, based on the details revealed by “No Easy Day”, I’ve asked Ugo Crisponi to update the first Neptune’s Spear infographic, and here’s the latest view of what has happened the night Bin Laden was killed.
1) A pair of reserve MH-47s (maybe Stealth Chinooks?) were on stand by at a Forward Air Refueling Point (FARP) north of Abbottabad. They carried personnel and material to set up the FARP as well as a team for the eventual Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) mission.
2) The two MH-Xs flew to Abbottabad using callsigns “Chalk 1” and “Chalk 2”
3) One of the MH-47s flew to the compound to pick up the crew of the downed helicopter.
4) After recovering the crew of the crash landed MH-X, the MH-47 flew directly to Jalalabad
5) and 6) Both the MH-47 and the MH-X returned to Jalalabad from the FARP (the latter had made a fuel stop there after the raid).
7) the SEALs Team Six was flown from Jalalabad to Bagram in an MC-130
Believed to be an exclusive U.S. “black project”, the radar-evading chopper (most probably a quiet one, rather than an actual helicopter invisible to radars), such helos would be used by the IAF to drop Iranian dissidents into Iran to gather intelligence on the Tehran’s nuclear program, according to a report written by Maloof for G2 bulletin, a global intelligence newsletter.
This is the first time someone reports about radar-evading choppers in the hands of Israel.
Even if it’s quite unlikely that the Washington shared the secrets of its most advanced helicopter with Jerusalem, considered that the American Stealth Hawk is probably based on 1978 study freely available on the Internet, we can’t rule out the possibility that the Israeli industry has found a way to modify the IAF Black Hawks (nicknamed “Yanshuf”, English for “Owl”) to make them stealthy.
Provided a Stealth Yanshuf really exists, this is what it would look like in two updated versions of the renderings I conceived with AviationGraphic.com‘s Ugo Crisponi: above, the famous highly modified version with retractable landing gear MH-X (please remember this is not the actual designation), whose shape reminds the one of an S-76; below, the more likely slightly-modified Stealth Black Hawk (described here).
As many readers of this blog already know, I’ve begun studying the possible shape of the so-called “Stealth Black Hawk” or “Silent Hawk” since the first pictures of the helicopter that had crash landed at Abbottabad, in Pakistan, during the Osama Bin Laden raid (officially named “Operation Neptune’s Spear“), appeared on line.
Based on the remains of the tail section, I asked Ugo Crisponi, an artist at AviationGraphic.com, to create a sketch of 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, “grain of salt”, engine shields, rotor covers, an extra main rotor blade (to slow down the rotor speed making blades quieter), some straight lines and what had survived to the attempt of the U.S. Navy Seals Team 6 to destroy the chopper, we created a realistic shape of the “black”, never seen before, helicopter.
Although fairly inaccurate (for obvious reasons…) and resembling an S-76 more than an MH-60 Black Hawk, our Stealth Black Hawk became a worlwide de facto standard: model kits, documentaries, videogames, articles feature the stealthy chopper I conceived with Crisponi as the actual helicopter secretly serving with the 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment).
Furthermore, since we named the rendering “MH-X” (because we thought it was an upgraded MH-60) everybody has though that “MH-X” was the official designation of the chopper, even if it is only a fictional designation I used to manage the file versioning with Ugo.
Anyway, during the last year, we have continued to receive hints, corrections, official and unofficial comments and we have revised the original rendering to prepare a much more accurate profile of the Stealth Black Hawk that you can find in the image below.
Here it is:
The new version of the radar-evading chopper is much more similar to the MH-60: since the stealthy helicopter is an upgraded version of a standard Black Hawk (even according to official sources), it must have the some basic airframe and dimensions.
Along with many minor details we have fixed, here are the most important modifications:
landing gear: the “new” version has a landing gear as a retractable undercarriage would require an extensive redesign of the whole airframe that is quite unlikely for a retrofit work.
retractable refueling probe: we put it in the very first version, we removed it in the revised. However, as any other special ops helicopter, the Stealth Black Hawk is probably equipped with a retractable probe needed to perform aerial refueling and to extend the range.
chaff and flare dispensers: the helicopter is believed to be equipped with passive countermeasures released through tail section dispensers like those on both sides of the U.S. Navy’s MH-60S “Armed Helo”.
As always, if you have any suggestion, send me an email or leave a comment.