That Downed US Aircraft Was a Secret Stealth Helicopter

Illustration for article titled That Downed US Aircraft Was a Secret Stealth Helicopter

US Special Forces lost a helicopter in their mission to take down Osama bin Laden. And while previous reports—and a peek at the tail—have so far indicated that it was a Black Hawk MH-60, the latest speculation is that this wasn't just your average berzerker chopper. It was a secret stealth edition. No wonder they burned that sucker to the ground.


According to Bill Sweetman at Aviation Week:

It was a secretly developed stealth helicopter, probably a highly modified version of an H-60 Blackhawk. Photos published in the Daily Mail and on the Secret Projects board show that the helicopter's tail features stealth-configured shapes on the boom and tip fairings, swept stabilizers and a "dishpan" cover over a non-standard five-or-six-blade tail rotor. It has a silver-loaded infra-red suppression finish similar to that seen on some V-22s.

The modifications Sweetman mentions include aerodynamic and flight control adjustments that allow for a reduced rotor speed (and, subsequently, less noise), radar cross-section reduction to improve jamming, and I'm sure other top-secret goodies.

Sweetman also mentioned that the highly sensitive technologies aboard the stealth Black Hawk indicate just how important this mission was to the US; allowing that bag of tricks to fall into Pakistani—or any other—hands would have been a sizable breach of defense intelligence. Fortunately, it appears that SEAL Team 6 succeeded in destroying the critical tech before they flew back to safety. [Aviation Week via PopSci]



There's been a long history of specially-modified low-signature helicopters...

In December 1972, the CIA, under the guise of 'Air America' utilized an NOH-6A (officially, the Hughes 500P), a heavily modified OH-6A Cayuse/Loach with a 5-bladed rotor, an X-configuration tail rotor, specialized avionics and an infrared suppression kit. 'The Quiet One' was so quiet that it was inaudible until it was less than two football fields away.