Pakistan and its "best friend" China want to study the remains of a US chopper damaged in Pakistan during the Osama bin Laden raid, Pakistani officials said.
When a US military helicopter was destroyed in the backyard of Osama bin Laden’s compound, it left not only a pile of smouldering wreckage but tantalizing evidence of a secret stealth chopper. The quest for a helicopter that can slip behind enemy lines without being heard or detected by radar has been the Holy Grail of military aviation for decades and until this week nobody had thought such a craft existed. But aviation experts are now convinced that the Pentagon may have developed such an aircraft. They say the U.S. military went to extraordinary lengths to protect its new technology by destroying a helicopter that had been damaged in the raid, either during the initial landing or in the subsequent evacuation.
Aerospace analysts say the surviving tail section appears nothing like that of the standard $30-million Black Hawk chopper made by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Connecticut. Notably, the tail rotor was partially covered by a plate or hub, possibly part of a noise muffling system. “What we’re seeing here is a very different type of design than what we normally see in rotorcraft,” said Loren Thompson, defence policy analyst for the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va. “It appears that the military went to great lengths to reduce the radar and acoustic signature of the helicopter.” The tail section hints at what other modifications might have been made to the far more important main rotor. Farhan Gandhi, aerospace engineering professor at Pennsylvania State University and deputy director of the Penn State Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence, said tremendous advances in helicopter noise reduction have been made in recent years. “You can never have helicopters make zero noise, but there is a tremendous possibility to make them much quieter than they are now,” Gandhi said.
Pakistan and its "best friend" China want to study the remains of a U.S. chopper damaged in Pakistan during the Osama bin Laden raid, Pakistani officials said.
Speaking to ABC News, a Pakistani official expressed his country's interest in the helicopter, while another said China too is interested, adding: "We might let (the Chinese) take a look."
Aviation experts told ABC News they believe the secret stealth-modified helicopter was a highly classified modified version of a Blackhawk helicopter. One said: "You wouldn't know that it was coming right at you. And that's what's important, because these are coming in fast and low. …"
The craft was abandoned by the U.S. Navy SEAL team after killing the al-Qaida leader in a May 2 predawn raid on his compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad, northeast of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.
Pakistan is a close ally of China and last week, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani described China as Pakistan's "best and most trusted friend" ahead of his visit to the communist country this month.
The ABC News report said the United States has already asked the Pakistanis to return the remains of the craft. A U.S. official said he did not know whether the Pakistanis' had made the offer to the Chinese but added he would be "shocked" if the latter haven't already gotten access.
The White House has said the craft was damaged after clipping a wall and the SEALs tried to destroy it but a portion of the tail section remained after an explosion. The report said the tail section and other destroyed pieces were later photographed being carried on a tractor from the crash site.
Any technological information obtained from studying the remains could be valuable to the Chinese, former White House counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke said.
"Because Pakistan gets access to Chinese missile technology and other advanced systems, Islamabad is always looking for ways to give China something in return," Clarke said.