Thursday, May 05, 2011

About that chopper that they destroyed during the course of the raid...

And more details. The unit that killed Bin Laden had at some point destroyed one of their own helicopters:
A picture of the tail rotor of the chopper that the Navy Seals' Team Six detonated revealed unfamiliar features. Reports say it could be a new, secret helicopter.

When the Team Six members reached Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad one of the choppers made a "controlled but hard landing," according to reports, probably due to higher than expected temperatures.

Temperatures affects the density of the air, and low density makes it harder for the rotor to sustain the weight of the chopper, especially if it was near its maximum weight (being packed with soldiers and fuel to fly in from Afghanistan). Abbottabad is about 1200 meters above the sea level, and altitude also affects air density.

So what machine exactly experienced the hard landing described above? Short answer: we don't know for sure. Long answer: It seems that the tail rotor visible in the picture belongs to a highly modified version of the H-60, the chopper of choice of the special forces for more than 30 years. Aviation Week doesn't beat around the bush, claiming: "A previously undisclosed, classified stealth helicopter apparently was part of the U.S. task force that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on May 1."

Stealth technology on helicopters is not itself new, but the fact that a previously unknown machine was used in this raid is yet another proof of the degree of importance that this mission had for U.S. commanders.
And there are more details to come yet. For example I need to do a post about President Obama's decision to not release any photos of OBL.

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