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?
Although Alex wonders whether he has stumbled upon a next-gen US military helicopter or has just seen a new experimental chopper, he admits that the black helo parked at Torrance airport must be some kind of fake stealth used for a movie.
Obviously, I don’t think the above chopper has anything in common with the Stealth Black Hawk involved in the Osama Bin Laden raid either. It hasn’t anything you’d expect in a real stealthy chopper: rotor shape, type of blades, noise reduction covers, etc. (without considering that unrealistic AIM-9L Sidewinder carried on the right wing….). Furthermore, not even it would be sitting without armed guards in case of an emergency landing.
However I’d be curious to know if anybody know something more about this helicopter or is able to understand which basic model was so heavily modified and for what purpose (movie, documentary, TV drama series, ).
Update: thanks to Thorsten, a visitor of this site, I’ve discovered that the above aircraft is a derivative of the American Aircraft Penetrator, a proposed gunship conversion of the famous Bell UH-1 Huey, whose name is Stealth Star. According to the official website the Stealth Star is the result of a retrofit of an existing helicopter performed by AEROCRAFT Corp under AEROCRAFT Strategic Advantage Program (ASAP).
AEROCRAFT mission seems to be addressed to government agencies rather than private owners:
“Countries must now defend themselves against the growing threats of small-scale conflicts. These elusive threats, from terrorism to border incursion, drug wars and insurgency, have forced the defense to take the high ground. And the best weapons for this new battlefield is specialized, highly advanced helicopters, designed to penetrate the new combat arena and withstand small arms fire.
Many government agencies cannot compete effectively in this new combat arena because their Vietnam-vintage helicopters are too old. These helicopters share obsolescence, redundancy, and poor aerodynamics, ballistics vulnerability and often carry outmoded weaponry. Aluminum exteriors and blind spots make them vulnerable to small arms attack. The high heat signature from the helicopter’s turbo shaft is an easy target for heat seeking ground missiles. History has shown that 90% of helicopters were downed by small arms fire and 80% of these never saw their attacker.
The cost of purchasing new, advanced helicopter systems is astronomical. And the process can take years of negotiation. AEROCRAFT can help you eliminate these obstacles.
“Through ASAP, an existing helicopter can be reconfigured into a powerful Penetrator gunship within 18 months. This is a significantly shorter time frame than the three to five-year schedule required purchasing a new helicopter. And, depending on the options required, up to three Penetrator gun ships could be purchased for the cost of one new helicopter.”
Dealing with the tech embedded in this alleged stealth chopper:
A KEVLAR all-composite monococque exterior provides ten times the ballistic resiliency of aluminum. The high-visibility cockpit design improves peripheral sight and eliminates blind spots. A heat-suppressing device on the turbo shaft brings the heat signature below the threshold of heat-seeking missiles. The engine is isolated for increased survivability. Fifty caliber machine guns are stored inside. And, new sophisticated aerodynamics are unmatched by any other Western helicopter.
So, provided that you trust AEROCRAFT Corp. and their ability to modify an helicopter without affecting its airworthiness and flight safety, maybe you can turn your chopper into a real (…) gunship.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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, 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:
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