Home » Weapons » Arms Trade » What the Secret Bin Laden Raid Helo Might Look Like

What the Secret Bin Laden Raid Helo Might Look Like

by John Reed on May 4, 2011

Here you have it; the artists’ renderings of what the secret helicopter that crased during the raid to kill Osama bin Laden might look like have begun to surface. Since the only photos of the beast to emerge so far show only the tail section, the drawings are pretty much based on imagination and educated guesswork, but they’re still entertaining.

The first one, found on David Cenciotti’s blog, shows a chopper (we’ll call it the Stealth Hawk) that’s so souped up it’s pretty much a brand new helo save for the size and general shape. It makes the tricked out Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk look primitive in comparison.

Here’s another image found on the militaryphotos forum. It’s a bit more conservative, sticking the stealthy-looking tail found at bin Laden’s mansion onto a fairly standard H-60 airframe.

Enjoy and please send any other renderings you can find our way.

UPDATE: Here’s yet another take on what the bird could look like via the secretprojects forum:

And here’s the first Chinese take I’ve seen:

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{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

innociv May 4, 2011 at 2:40 pm

This is very very very, very very very, very very very wrong.

Look at the wreckage photos. It looks nothing like the MH-60.

The rear is more a straight tube.

The rotor is at the end of said tube.

The vertical stabilizer is like a backwards slanting triangle that is far forward of the rotor.

It doesn’t resemble an MH-60 from the tail rotor at all.

Just a bad shop of an MH-60, and hacked render of a modified MH-60, where the part we know of isn’t even actually modeled.


innociv May 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Wait, I correct myself, it’s that the rotor is facing down.
It actually does look like that.


Sekar February 11, 2013 at 11:07 pm
Hawkpilot November 6, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Are you retarded? Obviously you've never seen any H-60 variant up close before.


swissfreek May 4, 2011 at 3:26 pm

That first one looks a lot like an S-76 at first glance, which to me makes it plausible. I'm still shocked that this thing has stayed hidden so well, considering that we've seen pictures of things like the "Beast of Kandahar" out there on the web. I still wonder what good it does to send in a stealthy Blackhawk that's being flanked by a monster Chinook.


Dan May 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm

What's to say the Chinook is a normal helo as well?


Guest May 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Maybe its a space ship !?


Guest23 May 5, 2011 at 1:18 pm

The chinook only came near the compound as a backup after the helicopter was experiencing problems. The CIA had two chinooks waiting as backup with backup crews.


Jose Teixido May 5, 2011 at 2:03 pm

It is no S-76, the rotorhead on the wreckage is 100% a Blackhawk family rotor. I even made a pict of this comparing the two.


Tim May 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Because you're second guessing a tactic that evidently you know little about. That said, you haven't "googled" the prototype Comanche or the M model UH60 ie. blade design. I love hearing you guys talking about "tactics" when your balls aren't getting shot at from your couch.


D mon May 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Sea king


J.Hughes May 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm

RAH-66 tech?


AkIRA May 4, 2011 at 8:57 pm

I get that feeling too. The flaring on the rotor hub looks very reminiscent of the RAH-66 main rotor. Also the angular construction of the rear tail is clearly stealthy. I like knowing this is out there, but it’s a pity everyone knows about this. I bet they are not happy about it, at least they got their man.


Capn Dan May 7, 2011 at 12:38 am

I see a lot of RAH-66 RCS shaping in the vertical fin, and the tail rotor hub fairing is clearly to cover the tail rotor blade roots. What's really interesting is that the horizontal stabilizer appears to be swept forward. Can't figure that one out.


Capn Dan May 7, 2011 at 12:41 am

P.S. – the Silent Hawk drawings appear to be reversed – there would be no reason to reverse the direction of main rotor rotation or flip the tail rotor to achieve lower signature.


YanniT May 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Rotors are backwards on the first one, plus a 5-bladed head on a blackhawk would be a HUGE undertaking, not for some one-off ship.


Brian May 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Why are you presuming its a one-off?


anon May 4, 2011 at 5:36 pm

You can build things inexpensively at micro-scales. Rapid prototyping and Skunk Works sets a precedent. Granted it would suggest that the item is in very low quantities.

This will drive the black helicopter people nuts….


Musson May 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Off topic but have you heard about the new bar drink called a Bin Laden?

Two shots and a splash of water!


Black Owl May 4, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I don't get it. Why two shots and water?


chaz May 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm

He was double tapped and buried at sea.


Freedom_Runner May 6, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Hahahahaha I love it. Now I've got to try it.


BFE May 24, 2011 at 7:59 pm

U just made my day !!!! thanks !!! i had not heard that one yet. YES!!!


Vstress May 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm

This rotor either way is designed to reduce noise… if people don't know. The area with all the exposed linkages create a fair bit of extra noise. It's fair to say that this however might reduce certain aspects of performance.

I assume the rotor should have a similar cover too, to help it reduce the noise. A lot of noise comes from the interaction of the downwash with the tail rotor… hence the thin blades used here too. This does mean though that the rotor would have to be increased in speed from the MH-60… if it is a modified one… and hence a major gearbox change.

I still stand by a prior comment… they should have dropped a JDAM after the raid :)


Vstress May 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Repost… for clarity:

This tail rotor is designed to reduce noise… if people don't know. The area with all the exposed linkages create a fair bit of extra noise. It's fair to say that this however might reduce certain aspects of performance.

I assume the main rotor should have a similar cover too, to help it reduce the noise. A lot of noise comes from the interaction of the main rotor downwash with the tail rotor… hence the thin blades used here too. This does mean though that the rotor would have to be increased tail rotor speed from the MH-60 original… if it is a modified one… and hence a major gearbox change.

I still stand by a prior comment… they should have dropped a JDAM after the raid :)


Chksix May 6, 2011 at 11:50 am

Ditto on the JDAM!


Paul May 4, 2011 at 3:55 pm

It probably looks like the one from China. Taken from the real thing after being delivered in the covered trucks. It wouldn't be surprising. But I hope it's like the first, that's nice!


mzungu May 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm

1978 Sikorsky details of three design studies of Blackhawk fuselages modified for low radar cross section:



Vstress May 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Let's be a bit more realistic… why would they need to make it low radar signature?! Last time I checked the most that the Afghans (including those living in Pak) only have access to MANPADS… and even then, only to soviet heat seeking designs.

This is all about noise reduction only. In helicopter assault… you need to keep the element of surprise as long as possible. A helicopter coming into land or hovering to zip-line troops is an easy target. If you fly NOE, then there is very little visual warning… but loud things (i.e. chinooks) can be heard from very far away. Sadly the hueys in Vietnam didn't have such a quiet rotor either.


mzungu May 4, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Well, Vstress.

U R right, noise signatures matters the most in Helo stealth, but I don’t relive that they’ll just build/mod a copter just for noise and infra-red suppression when you can go all the way with a little shape modification.

Who knows? may be one day you do need to go pick up a agent in a site with radar installation near by. I do remember reading that the Pak. did launch some F-16 to intercept, but it didn’t go any further than that. Figure that someone somewhere made some calls, or turn on some jammers, and turn off and on some fake IFF, or just shut those F-16 electronics down with some secret build-in codes.

Price you pay for buying foreign equipments and aids. :-)


Vstress May 5, 2011 at 2:40 am

Yeah… but making a chopper invisible to radar is nearly impossible due to the fact that you have huge rotating blades! Intake and exhaust design is one of the most critical parts on a fixed wing stealth aeroplane for that reason.

p.s. if you make them out of carbon fibre etc. doesn't help… as you always need to coat it with some form of lightning protection, or the moment lightning hits a blade, you have lost the blade.


The_Hand May 4, 2011 at 8:19 pm

You'd want a low observable airframe when you're launching an op into Pakistan, whose government seems to have a significant percentage of AQ sympathizers.


Jason May 4, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Not to mention the fact that the Pakistanis apparently weren't notified beforehand; I'm guessing they wanted to keep them in the dark as long as possible. Also would be a good idea to counter the possibility of some mook on the roof of the compound w/ IR goggles and a MANPAD.b


Morty May 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm

John’s pitcher’s do make it look like the helicopter pitcher’s by defense tech.


tracker May 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm

What about a new model of mh-53 pave low? The tail rotors on those are at the top of the tail like that…


usa is # 1 May 4, 2011 at 4:47 pm

looks like the h 66


153M May 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm

The Silent Hawk Concept picture looks like the best candidate. The change from a standard MH-60 (L/K/M) could be as simple as:
New fairings
New main rotor blades (similar to those on UH-60M or Eurocopter "Blue Edge" blades)
New main rotor head (only half the swashplate would need redesign)
Different reduction gearing for the tail rotor(5 shorter tail rotor blades take advantage of the higher RPM and reduce noise)
Smoothed sheetmetal and composite surfaces with flush hardware
New stabilator

The only change in the Silent Hawk Concept from a standard H-60 that didn't seem to make it to production was swapping sides with the tail rotor and changing the direction of rotation on the main rotor. Those would have been larger changes in how the aircraft is controlled and powered.


zman May 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm

i agree..18 of them made….with this new package


Ken Hillman May 22, 2011 at 3:52 am

I think we are all spending to much time on the SECRET….they updated an older airframe, they basically streamlined it, so what. It's about time we look ahead and try to better ourseleves and give our soldiers what they need to survive.


fukstik May 4, 2011 at 6:30 pm

umm, the ny times stated that there were 79 "commandos" on 4 choppers — you can't do that with the hawk frame.


Steve B. May 4, 2011 at 8:03 pm

You are forgetting that there were MH47's on the mission. In theory, the Silent/Blackhawks would have delivered the primary assault team, with the 47's providing backup force as well as backup lift capability. Probably the primary assault force went in on aircraft that were quieter to achieve surprise. Thus the troop numbers are probably correct as well as the numbers and types of aircraft being speculated.



CBD May 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm
Jim May 4, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Fox news just had a feature saying the DOD is 'very worried' about the survival of the tail and is pressing Pakistan to return it.


Blue1 May 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Yeah…and they also said it was a downed apache. I take fox news like I eat meatloaf, with a pinch of salt


SAR Pilot May 4, 2011 at 11:18 pm

2 Modified MH-60s and 2 MH 47s flown by The 160th SOAR.


J. Brown May 5, 2011 at 9:09 am

These wannabees all have their own over thought ideas. You are right, desert 1 showed us about simplicity. A Delta, 160 op. milk run for them, done on a daily basis. Hot/High was an issue, and exact Nav. infill, 160 finger prints all over. Right down to the smoking hole that was left. Let the 'aquatic critters' take credit and keep the spotlight off the real players.
Just an old 'Snow Birder' FE for Hooks observation


Joseph May 5, 2011 at 2:00 am

Blue1 that was a Fox News correspondent receiving reports from eyewitnesses. My guess is the eyewitnesses didn't understand what they were seeing and mistakened apaches for something else. Meatloaf doesn't require salt if you undrstand or comprehend what you are tasting.


guest May 5, 2011 at 3:11 am
Alexander May 5, 2011 at 6:45 am

The helo probably wasn't designed just for this one op, so the arguments against it having low observable signature don't work. Its just their go to bird that can do *everything*, not specific to this one op.


tribulationtime May 5, 2011 at 10:07 am

Really you can do a low observable helo? With Big rotor blades, air intakes, and the tail itself. I doub it


Bunch a freaks May 5, 2011 at 11:02 am

Dude you fail. Check back on the foto on the wired article: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/05/aviation-
If this is the COMPLETE cabin this thing held either one drone computer or one dude.
These short metal blade thingies they stuffen ontop? prolly couldnt even make it hop if it wanted. AND WTF are these wing type things underneath it? This "helo" was prolly made by his neighbour and test-flown that day.


Gabbar Singh May 5, 2011 at 11:41 am

Folks working at Loral in the 80's said they had seen a demo chopper that was practically silent 25 years ago. That would have had to rely on analog damping mechanisms. Imagine how much better things should be now.


AirBag May 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm

"We now have nearly 3,000 soldiers serving in our ranks, keeping us on track to meet our current approved growth of 3,600 by 2015. We anticipate our MH-47G model Chinook fielding to be complete next spring, and our MH-60M model Black Hawk fielding to be complete in 2015." source: AirWarrior, dec. 2010. Col. John. W. Thompson cmdr 160th SOAR.


Lance May 5, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Looks like a awesome helo that can get troops to LZs more soundly due to stealth tech. BUT now with Pakistan letting Russian and Chinese personnel swarming the crash remains they can now catch up.


Chris May 5, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Who knows what type of really cool stuff they're cooking up at Area 51 these days. Have Blue was 11 years old before we saw our first F-117 in photos.


Jack May 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm

The side that the tail rotors are on don't match from picture to picture….this is BS.


OLDGUNNY May 5, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Technology obvious is the same as the RAH-66 with advanced tail rotor. This would account for the stealth and sound suppression. I can't tell about the size, but it could fit. The RAH-66, AKA as the Comanche series was cancelled because of cost, but prototypes did exist with an unknown number of variations.


153M May 6, 2011 at 2:03 pm

RAH-66 was a ducted fan. nothing like what we're seeing here.


Mark O'Connell August 3, 2011 at 2:22 pm

It's already out that these were Modified Blackhawks.


Tyler May 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Maybe they just leaked that its a an MH-60 variant……could be something else entirely.


uncle gene May 5, 2011 at 7:46 pm

The Marine One you are talking about doesnt have the same back tail rotor as these images, it's just as loud as your average helicopter as seen from the video Anon posted above me.


Tinky May 5, 2011 at 8:31 pm

none of this remotely resembles the Stealth chopper that crashed according to the pictures published, if they are indeed legitimate. It appears to be a very tiny chopper /plane 2-4 man combo, it obviously has technology way beyond what they have made public. I bet it can go into the lower atmosphere as well, above 50 000 ft. It almost resembles a space ship. It had small, short, wide blades. They were chased by a larger chopper or two no doubt, but perhaps this particular stealth chopper was on a first official mission. What I want to know is how many Billions does one cost?


WHAT May 5, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Artist's rendition. Check this out.


Jerry Johnson May 6, 2011 at 1:26 am



sith684 May 6, 2011 at 9:08 am

just thinking outloud….if this "secret helo" is so secret, then why is it all over the media???


Elliot May 6, 2011 at 12:33 pm

It is probably based on the blackhawk airframe, but beyond that it is an entirely new design and manufacturer. Not a bolt-on kit or modification. Judging by the only real evidence, the tail assembly and rotor, it must have a very low radar, infared and accoustic signature. Thank god the SEALs atleast had time to destroy the majority of the chopper, including the real guts of the machine. They probablty used incendiary grenades. The concern now is what remains and whos hands it ends up in. The Pakistanis are very close with the Chinese. Think about the cooperation in building the JF-17 fighter among dozens of other major defense systems they purchase from them. It is not hard to imagine that the Chinese are already looking at it. Hopefully the intelligence agencies are keeping an eagle eye on the wreckage and can somehow sabatoge or collect the remains somehow. Althought at this point the radar absorbant material used, the design and way it is put together, rear avionics, and other secrets of the chopper are already probably in enemy hands. This reminds me of back in 1999 when an F-117 was shot down in Serbia and remains were send by Belgrade to Moscow for examination. Although compared to the RAM we use now the F-117 material was a much older generation.


Mjd May 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Based on the scale of the rear rotor with person in frame I saw; looks more like a stealth version of a 53. That would also account for the possibility of high number of operators arriving on two birds. Don' t really know if that would be the Task Force boys or maybe the Air Forces 1st Air wing flying. That airframe has been there platform in the past.


153M May 6, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I'm very well acquainted with both airframes, and there is almost no comparison. That tail pylon is H-60 sized, even if it isn't one. The -53 is much bigger.


jim anderson May 6, 2011 at 1:19 pm

It could be nothing more than a planned hoax.


soar1 May 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

They werent even navy helicopters, they were army special operations helicopters


anonymous May 9, 2011 at 1:17 am

Man, the amount of ******** that comes out of the rumor mill is insane. Do a little research before you guys start saying it’s this, or that. I’ll listen to armytimes.com over any of you ******** any day of the week. In fact, there are dozens of credible sites all stating the same information as I listed below.

It was a Lockheed & Beoing designed chopper people. Stop debating on what it was.




Mark May 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Was it Airwolf?


Mark O'Connell August 3, 2011 at 2:27 pm



wethecom December 2, 2011 at 1:28 am

this is a ploy to distract you from the fact bin laded killing was faked..and the copter in the photo was small and looked like a drone


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YanniT May 4, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Its a standard 4 bladed MH60 with a bunch of stealth fairings, thats all. You can see the -60 pitch horn in the wreckage pretty clearly.


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