Tag Archives: MH-60

This is what taking part to a U.S. Special Forces raid on board a 160th SOAR MH-60 Black Hawk looks like

The following picture provides an interesting point of view: that of U.S. Special Forces (USSF) soldiers scanning the ground below for threats while flying on a 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment‘s MH-60 Black Hawk during a Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System training exercise.

USSF fast roped onto a specific target during the Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance, Target Analysis, and Exploitation Techniques Course, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School on Fort Bragg, N.C., Aug. 28, 2012

The Black Hawk of the 160th SOAR (A) barely visible in the picture is believed to be only loosely similar to the advanced stealthy MH-X “Silent Hawk” (or Stealth Black Hawk) that the “Night Stalkers” used to infiltrate and exfiltrate U.S. Navy SEALs during the Osama Bin Laden raid in May 2011.

Image credit: U.S. Army

 

 

Stealth Helicopter's "MH-X" designation comes from a temporary filename – on this computer

Although it’s hard to believe, I’m almost sure that the Stealth Black Hawk that crashed during the Osama Bin Laden raid has never been officially or unofficially named “MH-X”. Still, if you google “MH-X” you’ll find thousands articles that give it as the designation of the Stealth chopper project.

Even the prestiogious GlobalSecurity.org has a page dedicated to the “MH-X”: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/mh-x.htm

So, how’s this weird designation become so widely known? Simple: it was derived from the file name I and Ugo gave to very first version of the rendering of the Black Helicopter. We named it MH-X because we thought it was an upgraded MH-60 but since we didn’t know which could be the exact desigantion we used the “X” meaning a mysterious number.  So all the files with the renderings of the helicopter that I’ve uploaded to this website were all named mh-x.jpg or mhx-2B.jpg or mhx-2011 (sometimes with numbers used to identify the different revision: for example mh-x3.jpg, mh-x4.jpg, mh-x4 new2, etc.).

Noteworthy, even for the artwork prepared for AviationGraphic.com website we used the designation MH-X even if it was clearly fictional!

By the way, the last one is named MH-X-2011_I and, unlike the F-35I, the “I” suffix doesnt identify any special version developed for Israel….

Hence, unless some of my readers will be able to prove that the MH-X project existed before we used it (in fact, I can’t completely rule out the possibility that we used the correct designation by accident) I’m becoming increasingly convinced I should write it MH-X™ :)

In the meanwhile, since you may be interested, here’s the “story” of the MH-X concept since the beginning.

"Pakistan let China examine Stealth Black Hawk helicopter": so what?

On Aug. 14, the Financial Times and the NYT, followed by other media all around the world, published the news that in the days after Operation Neptune’s Spear Pakistan’s intelligence gave China the opportunity to examine the remains of the Stealth Black Hawk that crash landed during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Is this really a front page news? In my opinion, it is not, as it was quite predictable. We have already seen videos and pictures of chunks of the top secret radar-evading helicopter, being moved from the Bin Laden’s compound at Abbottabad. Not only the tail rotor section, that had remained almost intact and whose shape indicated that the one involved in the incident was not a common MH-60, but even smaller parts, like the one collected by Adam Roberts of the Economist on May 3, 2011, that had also a Part Number on it.

Furthermore, China is Pakistan’s main military equipment supplier and ties among both nations are extremely tough and, to let things even simpler, Islamabad has never accepted that the US carried out the raid without Pakistan’s prior approval.

That’s why, ironically, on May 31 I wrote a blog post titled “China has already reverse-engineered the Stealth Black Hawk”.

Hence, it was quite obvious that Chinese would soon be able to have parts of the Stealth technology used to make a “Silent Black Hawk”. How long does it take for China to have its chopper capable to elude radar? Not so much. Most probably, one or two years, considering the number of Stealth fighters being developed by Beijing and the ability of Chinese engineers to copy classified Western technologies.

However, a big help could come also from the US. An interesting freely available document, issued in 1978 by Sikorsky Aircraft Division for the US Army Research and Technology Laboratories and titled “STRUCTURAL CONCEPTS AND AERODYNAMIC ANALYSIS FOR LOW RADAR CROSS SECTION (LRCS) FUSELAGE CONFIGURATIONS” shows the first attempts to give the UH-60 some stealth capabilities.

Although they can’t be considered as a handbook for Stealth choppers, the fuselage concepts for low radar cross section aircraft configurations designed at the end of the ’70s still apply today and the concepts behind them could be still useful to imagine the real shape of the Stealth Black Hawk.

That’s why I’ve used them to create the famous Stealth Black Hawk concept that will appears in today’s newspapers until the real modified “Silent Hawk” will be disclosed or until China will announce its first Stealth chopper….

A video game revealed the shapes of the Stealth Black Hawk of Osama Bin Laden raid well before pictures were taken at Abbottabad

Have a look at the following screenshots:

Don’t you think that the above helicopter recalls the possible shape of the Stealth Black Hawk (at least of the modified MH-60 that I imagined with Ugo Crisponi)? The funny thing this time is that, unlike the famous Dragon Models Limited kit that will be available from July 2011 and whose box cover artwork was released at the end of May, the above screenshots are from a videogame that was released on Mar. 11, 2011, more or less two months before the doomed stealth helicopter involved in Operation Neptune’s Spear crash landed in the Osama Bin Laden compound at Abbottabad.

Even the crash landing scene depicted above could be similar (althought it should be set at night) to the one of Abbottabad on May 2 before the Navy Seals put the explosive in the remains of the helicopter to destroy it.

The name of the video game is “Homefront”. According to Wikipedia it is “a first-person shooter video game developed by Kaos Studios and published by THQ, in which players play as members of a resistance movement fighting against a near-future Korean military occupation of the United States. The story was written by John Milius, who co-wrote Apocalypse Now and wrote/directed Red Dawn. It was released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Windows, and also made available through OnLive on March 15, 2011 in North America, March 17, 2011 in Australia, March 18, 2011 in Europe,[5] and April 14, 2011 in Japan. Its tagline is: “Home is where the war is.”

Kudos to those who, envisaging the existence of a black stealth helicopters in the near future (Homefront is set in 2025), have designed, by coincidence or not, a helicopter whose shapes resemble those of our famous “Silent Hawk” (and much thanks to Marco Olimpio for the heads up).

The video below provides some information about the plot of Homefront:


China has already reverse-engineered the Stealth Black Hawk

Those who were worried that China could get its hands on some pieces of the ill-fated chopper that crashed in the Osama Bin Laden compound to reverse-engineer the Stealth helicopter have to accept the unpleasant reality that the Chinese have already copied it. As a matter of fact, on May 23, 2011, Dragon Models (based in Hong Kong, China) announced a new model (to be released in July): the 1/144 scale Stealth Helicopter “Operation Geronimo” (Twin Pack).

Image: Dragon Model Limited

If you look at the artwork on the box, you’ll notice that the one created so quickly by DML is quite similar to the concept I developed with Ugo Crisponi. It has the same (fictional) intakes and exhausts, and the overall shape is almost identical. To be honest it also includes some of the inaccuracies of our famous MH-60X rendering (dated May 5) that we fixed in a subsequent “release” (published on May 17) and a few more (based on the artwork, the blades seem quite unrealistic while the horizontal stabilizers are different from what the pictures suggest).

Anyway, here below you can find the May 5 sketch and if you compare it to the above image, you’ll see that, most probably, I and Ugo had the same ideas about the Stealth Black Hawk as the Dragon graphic designers. Noteworthy, the model comes with the unofficial/unconfirmed raid’s codename, since the official one is Operation Neptune’s Spear and not Operation Geronimo (“Geronimo” was the codeword for Bin Laden’s capture or death).

Above: the Stealth Black Hawk rendering I published on this site on May 5. Below the new version issued today (May 31, 2011).


Here’s an excerpt of how Dragon introduces its new model:

[…] Looking like a mixture of MH-60 Black Hawk and F-117 Stealth Fighter, this mysterious helicopter from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) has distinctive edges and angles. The fuselage, nose and tail were all modified to reduce the craft’s radar cross-section.

[…]Befitting the innovative and ultra-secretive shape of the helicopter, this model is newly tooled in every aspect. All the low-observable features such as the angled surfaces are carefully rendered. […]

To be or not to be [Stealth]: that is the question

If Drangon dared to venture into a Stealth model about which we still know very little (even if a 1/144 scale is small enough to “hide” some unknown details), Italian model manufacturer Italeri, took a different approach. Instead of producing a small kit of the Stealth Black Hawk basing on few pictures or artworks they announced a larger 1:48 UH-60/MH-60 Black Hawk “Night Raid”. The model box in this case is depicted performing a “generic” Special Forces operation inside a compound in Afghanistan (or Iraq).

Italeri told me that they have decided not to launch a product that, most likely, would have been quite different from the real Stealth Black Hawk, given the few images and known facts available to date. So they released a “normal” Black Hawk even if they are ready to work on a realistic “Silent Hawk” as soon as new details about the modified MH-60 used in the OBL raid will surface.

Whatever the choice (stealth or not stealth), such a quick reaction by both Dragon Models and Italeri shows how fast the response to a news story (and to the subsequent market demand) can be.

Dealing with the daily updates about the OBL raid and the Stealth helicopter, here’s an interesting news: on May 30 some media reported the (unconfirmed) news that two helicopters crossed the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan to take five Taliban members in North Waziristan, and bring them back across the border into Afghanistan. This article provides an interesting analysis of the episode. Obviously, I’m not suggesting Stealth Black Hawks were involved again; however, given that the targets were high-value ones and that this kind of mission (once again in “enemy territory”), if confirmed, would be probably carried out by Special Forces, who knows?