Home » News » Around the Globe » A Secret Helo Used In Bin Laden Raid

A Secret Helo Used In Bin Laden Raid

by John Reed on May 3, 2011

Britain’s The Daily Mail newspaper may have unwittingly revealed a very, very significant clue as to how those MH-60s managed to penetrate Pakistani airspace during sunday’s mission to kill Osama bin Laden. The answer; the weren’t MH-60s, at least not regular MH-60s. The pictures above and below show what’s alledgedly the wreckage of that U.S. chopper that crashed in Osama’s compound due to mechanical problems. It sure doesn’t look like any variant of the Black Hawk that I’ve seen. Maybe it’s a new stealth version of the bird or maybe it’s an entirely new class of chopper. It could be both stealthy and fast enough to evade Pakistani air defenses that were apparently scrambled during the operation. (See our earlier post on how the RQ-170 Beast of Kandahar may have helped jam Pakistani air defense networks.) This also begs the question, who flies it? Does it belong to the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment? Is it a secret Air Force Special Operations Command bird? Heck, maybe it’s a CIA chopper.

Yesterday, I posted the photo below of the tail section of the craft draped over a wall in Bin Laden’s compound. While it looked pretty much like a Black Hawk tail, I couldn’t for the life of me, figure out what the weird, flat piece of wreckage emerging from the tarp was. I just assumed that the airframe had been mangled badly enough that it looked weird. It could very well be some sort of shield designed to reduce the heat, noise or radar signature of the tail rotor. (The noise reduction efforts didn’t work all that well.) The possibility of a stealthy chopper being used in the raid explains why the Pakistani troops where in such a hurry to cover up all of the wreckage with blankets and cart if off so quickly. Who knows if this is the Pakistani cooperation White House officials said they received for the mission or if the PAF just scored a major tech boost. Good on Steve Trimble for spotting it and pointing out that now is the time to start speculating wildly about what type of bird this is.

Update: The Daily Mail has some additional photos of the wreckage here. The WSJ has these images. These shots appear to show that the SEALs and other American special operators were largely successful in destroying the fuselage of the chopper before Pakistani troops could secure the site. It looks like the tail section remained intact due to the fact that it was hanging over the compound wall, separated from the rest of the wreck. Oh, and check out these satellite images of the crash site. Here’s the latest image of the bird’s tail, it gives you a great sense of the overall tail assembly.

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{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

J.W. May 3, 2011 at 1:06 pm
Brian May 4, 2011 at 10:08 pm

It's not the X-2. That doesn't have a standard tail rotor. Though I like your train of thought.


Upgrade May 3, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Doesn't look like a black hawk to me…..


J.W. May 3, 2011 at 1:13 pm

One more link and read the comment on who will love this.


Jack May 3, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I bet what's left of the helo is already on it's way to China. China pays alot of money for stuff like this.


Raraavis May 3, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I hope the billions we give Pakistan is enough that we can quickly regain custody of this wreckage.


Em1 May 3, 2011 at 1:46 pm

good to know Camache R&D was put to good use


@Brianckramer May 3, 2011 at 1:49 pm

(1) there is no way its an X2, not yet, and it doesn't have a right-angle tail rotor.
(2)The main tail structure looks similar to a blackhawk
(3) the tail rotor hub is definitely not something I've seen before, but look comanche-esque, so I'd say a low-visibility blackhawk we haven't seen before, maybe designed for this mission.


TTe May 4, 2011 at 1:09 am

Tail rotor hub!? Comanche sports the Fenestron tail fan like the Dauphine. I can't recall memory any helo has the dome tail rotor hub like this.


@Brianckramer May 3, 2011 at 1:50 pm

It's upside-down, it matches a blackhawk.


Upgrade May 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Hmmmm. It looks like the wings are swept to aft. And below the rotor, then that would place the rotor on the left side.


@Brianckramer May 3, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Also, in the 23rd picture of the WSJ slideshow, you can see a piece of the rotor sticking out of the back of the truck, and it appears to have the same "notch" at the end that the blackhawk rotor soes (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dm3/5279248442/in/photostream/lightbox/)


Raraavis May 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm

It certainly looks like a modified Blackhawk tail with a totally new tail rotor. The 6 rotor design should be quieter and the cover looks like it certainly could be used to reduce the radar signature or possibly the sound or both.

I would love to see what the rest of the Stealth Blackhawk looks like.


Tom May 3, 2011 at 2:10 pm

It's clearly not a Blackhawk at least not a common one. Have a close look at the blades integration into the rotor head – definetly a low observable configuration…

pictures from the day after showed pakistanis using canvas cover to hide the wreckage loaded on trucks. They may have been aware that it's something secret. Question is are the trucks driving to the east or west?


jamesb May 3, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Hey guys…..

Could it have been one of excessed AW101' Merlins?
Rotor Cap…..
FIVE MTFing blades?



Guest May 3, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Not at all.


Nick T. May 3, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Not even the Kestrel has that. Why would we use that anyway? The kestrel is uses for VIPs not HVTs.


John Deere May 3, 2011 at 2:54 pm



jamesb May 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm

He, he, he…..I like that…….

What was that an old Bell 222?


M167a1 May 3, 2011 at 4:47 pm

yep! Good memory


Doogie May 3, 2011 at 3:23 pm

The image of the boom/empennage hanging on the wall with the tarp around it seems to be a reverse image as the other two show the rotor on the other side. Also, there appears to have been some significant preparation of the tail boom that is hanging from the crane as the drive shaft has been removee and the boom/empennage has been pinched closed.


Charles May 3, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Looks alot like a blackhawk with a cover on the tail rotor to enhance stealth to me, also with a swept tail. Seems like that makes more sense than creating a whole new copter for one op, im sure this isnt the first time american air assets were in Pakistani airspace.


Thomas L. Nielsen May 4, 2011 at 1:50 am

I agree. As far as I can see, the most reasonable explanation is that this is an MH-60 with some stealth modifications. "Sneak-hawk" or "Silent-hawk" anyone?

If it had in fact been some new, super-stealthy, super-secret watchammacallit, it would never have been left semi-intact out in the open like that.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


Starbuck May 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm

The stabilator looks a lot smoother than a conventional Black Hawk, swept back too.

The first picture looks like it might be a tail rotor…they're too thin to be main rotor blades.


cthel May 4, 2011 at 1:41 pm

actually, looking at the reverse view, the stabiliser is forward swept – so it's probably safe to assume it's a composite construction too


Vet1983 May 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm

http://www.activesensors.com/news/7 in 2010 NASA was working on noise reduction for the MH-60


TribulationTime May 3, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Good Trivia….Maybe "Obama Hell (o) Carriage". Indicative " Me Me ONE"

CIA rent (a bit spy stupidity fly ONLY US USER model) with aerodimamics (Plate) fixes for Extra Long Ranges to fooled departure base so anyone can do guess. (….mi cousin live in Kabul putting gas on helos and say me that chopper fly sunday bla bla bla) Congratulations!


Gust May 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm

this is like nothing I've ever seen. Look closely at the tail rotor. that is high level stealth. For the price of such a high value target like Osama, a Blackhawk would have been left behind without "C4ing" it. This looks rather to come straight from skunk work & co and to be rather top secret than secret.


blight May 3, 2011 at 8:35 pm

If it were utterly super secret it would not have been left intact like that. Even the designs and materials would be worth destroying. Letting current-generation LO material fall into other nations hands would not be the way to go, nor would giving design ideas about low observeables for helicopters.


Kevin Trainor May 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm

The plate is 2 fold in use.
1. Aerodynamics and noise signature.
2. Possible use of RPG/missle dome.


m167A1 May 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Retrieve menu from CIA chow hall?


Thorne46 May 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Wow, its built the way it is so it can be a covert helicopter; the smooth flat and curved surface so it can stay off radar as much as posable. They’ve more than likely had it for a few years now, because with stuff like this they want to be close to perfect as posable.


CPT B May 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

no rivots.


CPT B May 3, 2011 at 5:00 pm



NMN May 3, 2011 at 6:50 pm

That picture of the horizontal stabilizer definitely shimmers in the sun as if it is coated in a similar LO coating as out 5th gen fighters.


Roy Smith May 3, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Could it be a Navy Seahawk or an Air Force Pave Hawk?


X2 lover May 3, 2011 at 9:18 pm

None of the ac posted here can carry the amount of ment needed for the mission. I work for Sikorsky and know it wasn't an X2. (shushh you skeptics, we can't show you what's coming at the terrorists yet.)


Gene May 3, 2011 at 10:03 pm

For sure its all new tech/gunship. He never saw it coming, turnabout is fair. America rides again. We need more of this Mr. President


paul May 3, 2011 at 10:08 pm

looks like ch 53 to me


paul May 3, 2011 at 10:12 pm

maybe that was a bad guess, but i have seen that design somewhere before


M167A1 May 4, 2011 at 2:30 am

the "squished x" rotor reminds me of the AH64. My guess is a heavily modified UH60M


Rob May 3, 2011 at 10:24 pm

It is possible it was a Pakistani craft with no Americans. Stories that this whole Binladen is all a 'fairy tail' (tale) are beginning to surface. Many were quick to believe but now conflicting facts & lack of video are making this look bad.

News nearly impossible to believe at all & fake photos all over net.

Only clear thing is that most of the world believe it is a good thing if he is dead. Which should be a clear message to those that support this ideology.

However, what's being missed is the possibility that 9/11 could just be an act of revenge for murders by our CIA & special forces. Many of his folllowers hate USA anyways, but did nothing. Now they have more motive to do something.


blight May 3, 2011 at 10:57 pm

It's not consistent with any Pakistani equipment either…?

If it were a false flag op, it would be easier to leave behind Hind, Hip, Blackhawk or any other generic production equipment pieces, or to just destroy everything in place with a few JDAMs to eliminate possibly untidy evidence.


M167A1 May 4, 2011 at 2:31 am

A nice Iranian UH-1 sitting on his lawn would have been funny.

"uh no, were not missing any helicopters… why do you ask?"


guy May 4, 2011 at 12:11 am

worth every penny


Spearhead May 4, 2011 at 12:23 am

Looks like it could be a MH-53J III.
"The large, unwieldy yet sophisticated MH-53J Pavelow III is a US Air Force helicopter that is dedicated to supporting Special Operations troops such as Delta Force, the US NAvy Seals and Rangers. Can carry up to 38 troops."


Spearhead May 4, 2011 at 12:29 am

MH-53J III also has these feathures…
"The MH-53J's mission is to perform low-level, long-range, undetected penetration into denied areas, day or night, in adverse weather, for infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces."


Belesari May 4, 2011 at 1:01 am

Dont think so. Tail isnt long enough plus for a op like this the pavelow isnt what you want. You want something fast and quiet. Its none of those.

This might have been either something cooked up by skunkworks or a augmented blackhawk.


M167A1 May 4, 2011 at 2:32 am

scale is hard to judge but I think its a bit small.


Greg May 4, 2011 at 10:24 pm

The MH-53 has been retired from the Air Force inventory for over a year.


dfgfds May 4, 2011 at 4:41 am

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Saul May 4, 2011 at 7:23 am

I'm looking at the MH-53J III out on wikipedia and it sez that they were retired in 2008. A Stealthed Pave Low V perhaps? That tail spar and rotor set is obviously stealthed, but looks to be a bit thin for the tail from what we can see. I can also see why they blew it to hell and back.

What do we have here?


mat May 4, 2011 at 7:43 am

If its not complete new craft the the best basis for stealth chopper modification by far is the NH90 modifiying a black hawk to be stealthy means only using the power pack ,NH90 fuselage is as stealthy as they get so modifing it would require much less effort.


Doogie May 4, 2011 at 9:22 am

Here's a reverse angle shot of the tail:


JMC May 4, 2011 at 10:09 am

specifically for urban assault to reduce signature for man pads


justin May 4, 2011 at 10:22 am

Yeah, I worked on an assembly line that makes blackhawk cabins and they used thousands of rivets. This tail has a near complete lack of the standard BJ series rivets. These had to be countersinked and flush fitting rivets. That adds extra work and expense and the performance advantage for rotorery wing aircraft is negligable. The only thing that I can think of is the application of a RAM coating. And the hub cap on the rotor? noise baffling and radar deflection.


tribulationtime May 4, 2011 at 11:02 am

Man!! Care us. This is a DEFENSE TECH BLOG. Thats it´s all us play here. I enforce its a old chopper with new "wear".


Doogie May 4, 2011 at 11:13 am

Stunning revelation as to cause:


1/9AirCav May 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Definitely NOT Blackhawk or variant. Sync Elevators at wrong spot & not large enough. Most likely not even transport. Prob scout or recon by the size of the wreckage. _Looks similar to tech. from the RAH-66….


Richard May 4, 2011 at 12:44 pm



chris May 4, 2011 at 1:13 pm

alien technology. I have seen it coming right out of area 51. I told you all this was going to happen. Next they will be here hovering over our homes to take us away for anal probing.



180pilot May 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm
Richard May 4, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Thanks for the insight. I take it it is a new modification to come out for the war efforts.


180pilot May 4, 2011 at 3:10 pm
153M May 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Congrats on the first post of value 180pilot.


Doug May 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Um…that usually happens when you shear the rotors off a helicopter when it crashes. But,. let the conspiracy theory nutsacks have their field day about things they know nothing about.


Richard May 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Doug, Don't care about the conspiracy theory, everyone will have questions for enlightenment on subject matter. Work and flew on Hawks, but thanks to 180pilot show linked of drawing so my curiosity is over. Hope they put this modification on all Hawks for the war efforts.


Javee May 4, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Exactly…I used to fly these things, that's nothing I've ever seen.


RSN May 4, 2011 at 8:31 pm

It is a RAH 66 Comanche. Program scrapped because of cost. Apparently Special Forces are using them.


Greg May 4, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Wrong. Completely different tail pylon and the Comanche wasn't designed to carry more than a crew of 2.


5150wazoo May 5, 2011 at 1:10 am

Bingo Jeff! Wondering that myself.


phil May 5, 2011 at 7:51 am

Lots of reports say there were two MH-60s and two MH-47s. I'm guessing the Chinooks went in after the stealth modified 60s. The 47s are very fast for helicopters but they make a hell of a lot of noise and have huge RCS.


bums May 5, 2011 at 2:09 pm

silent hawk link is a concept GIF,u can see what the editor have changed on a normal blackhawk. The changes is visible, they have a slight color change. take a good look and dont be fooled that easy.


Josh May 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm

"The answer; the weren’t MH-60s, at least not regular MH-60s" …'They' weren't MH-60's?? C'mon.


Salman May 7, 2011 at 7:29 am

US forces never killed Osama nor did they conducted the operation… Pak Army did the operation, caught/killed Osama and handed it over to US to choreograph the drama to present it to the world and specially for Osama's election compaign.. so Pak earned dollars from US as well us will earn from China as well.. n US wont do anything since they owe much to Pak anyways of handing over OBL to em :)


christian May 11, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I don't believe that the second and third photos in this article are even of the same piece. In the photo on the wall, the corners of the "wings" are at right angles to the tips, not so in the third photo.


Oath_Keeper May 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I'm sure I'm going to catch some criticism for this but I have to ask. Is anyone else not buying this OBL situation? I just heard an interview with Dr Steve Pieczenik. He was a White House Assistant Deputy Secretary of State and has worked under three administrations and wrote some of our books on counter-terrorism. In the interview he said he was tired of the lies to the troops and direction this country was going and is willing to testify before a grand jury that he and the CIA docs treated OBL for morvan disease. He went on to say that OBL died in 2001 of this disease. He also said that a top general confided in him about 9/11 being a 'false flag' stand down operation. I personally have seen the unreported evidence of thermite found in the 9/11 rubble. The third bldg (WTC 7) that collapsed in NYC having not been hit by a plane. The damn thing collapsed at free fall speed into its own footprint.


Russell May 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm

I think you are on the wrong site.


Brendan January 14, 2013 at 8:40 pm

MH-X Silent Hawk


tgivaughn February 20, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Silver/white Cobras with swept back elevators … or more precisely what are these called?


Jung June 9, 2013 at 12:30 am
conspiracymedia November 3, 2013 at 11:10 am

bullshit story..crashed helicopter and all Team of 6 added in one helicopter with Bins dead body /wifes ..How many people can fit in this wonder. lol conspiracy rules Raid was a LIE


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