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NGXfanatic

Mystery Helicopter

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Interesting. I can't recognize the tail boom and rotor... I like to think of myself as pretty good at aircraft recognition too. (3rd place 2009 NIFA Safecon a/c recognition :( Had to say it...)Me and my airplane geek friends started a Facebook debate thanks to you! :(

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It sure explains the care and attention they took to demolish that copter, and may explain why there was a crash in the first place. Plenty of food for healthy speculation/conspircy theories with this news!I'm no expert when it comes to whirlybirds, but seeing the photos of the copter remains on the news, I thought that it looked very very strange, like nothing I'd ever seen before.

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stealthawk.jpgArtists rendition that looks pretty plausible. Also, the reason why the tail was left intact was because it snapped off when the tail hit the top of the wall. The SEALs probably didn't notice it was missing from the wreckage. Given what a good job they did at blowing the out of the main portion of the chopper, I'm almost certain the tail was simply overlooked. Whoops.

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The notion of a 'stealth helicopter always makes me laugh; I guess that'd be a helicopter you can only hear from three miles away instead of six LOL. Of course, I know it will really be about radar returns and jamming rather than sound levels, since there isn't really a great deal they can do about the supersonic slap noises a rotor blade makes beyond sweeping the tips back a bit, but they can certainly do something about spoofing laser and IR seekers.That tail wreckage does more or less look like the UH-60's layout as far as the elevator and rotor position in relation to one another are concerned, even though there are clearly some radical differences such as the sweep of the elevators, so it may indeed be a tarted up Blackhawk, but it clearly isn't some knocked up five minute field modification. It's certainly intriguing.Time to take the hammer to my Alphasim Blackhawk I guess... :( Al

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This is probably the most interesting aviation mystery since we all waited to see what the Stealth Bomber and Fighter really looked like back in the 80's. There were lots of "artists impressions" back then and they were not very close to what the real aircraft looked like at all. Remember the Testors kit of the Stealth fighter?One thing is clear from the photos. The tail rotor was not turning when the tail fell over the wall. There is no damage to the rotor blade tips. Not even any mud on them. I speculate (strong emphasis on it's only speculation) that after the crash, the engines and rotors were immediately shut down. The tail was resting on the wall and when the aircraft was destroyed, the section in the photos snapped off and fell to the ground. Had it snapped off during the crash, the tail rotor would have still been turning and we would see damage to all five blades.The Pakistanis knew something was different about this wreckage and immediately they put a shield around it to hide it from prying lenses. They even covered the wreckage when they hauled it off to who knows where. I suspect there has been some high level negotiation between the Pakistani government and the U.S. to get the wreckage returned ASAP.I am going to go out on a limb and say that the helicopter is not a modified Blackhawk at all, but an all new type of aircraft that we may not see fully for several years from now.

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The good old 'F-19' did indeed turn out to not be the F-117 or the B-2 for that matter, but it seems that it was still a genuine aircraft, even if only a technology demonstrator. Check out this link and read paragraph three in particular, for a clue as to the identity of the famed 'Aurora':http://www.rense.com/general57/f19.htmI tend to agree that it isn't simply a tweaked Blackhawk, or if it is, it's a hell of a big tweak. I have to say that it amused me when one press source speculated that in the light of the slightly strained relations between Pakistan and the US over the lack of trust/cooperation in that particular mission, they might see what they can get for the wreckage from China, or even a decent look at it. Clearly that newsman doesn't know how many parts for US aircraft originate from China in the first place! I can imagine the crestfallen look on some Pakistani diplomat's face when a Chinese rep says: 'yeah, you're alright mate, we actually built half of those bits'.Al

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Isn't it amazing that whenever something like this happens in the news, the so-called "retired experts", who during their careers were sworn to secrecy, now are more than happy to flap their gums for the press?One interesting thing is looking at the photos of the wreckage inside the courtyard. Granted, this was the part that was deliberately destroyed, but there seems to be very little wreckage. About the only recognizable part is the area of the main rotor hub and a few pieces of main rotor blades. I cannot see the remains of the engines at all. The entire passenger/cargo compartment is burned away with no recognizable features like the control panels or seats remaining. I am sure that the remaining fuel onboard created a very hot fire leading to almost total destruction of the airframe but usually the engines can be seen.p.s. I am not a "retired expert" of any sort so I can flap my gums. :(

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Isn't it amazing that whenever something like this happens in the news, the so-called "retired experts", who during their careers were sworn to secrecy, now are more than happy to flap their gums for the press?
Probably because no one in the press is interested in what these guys did in their careers until something like this happens.

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'Retired expert', 'former this' and 'insider' are notorious euphemisms for 'let's make something up and stick it in quotes to lend it some gravitas'. It's a standing joke in the media world, trust me, I spent ten years writing for newspapers, and making up quotations is a standard way to pad out or steer stories that I and other writers used to use all the time, and this was not for some dodgy rag you've never heard of, this was the Guardian newspaper group in the UK, which at that time included The Observer too.That doesn't necessarily mean you did not talk to someone, but it is very often the case that you will make up a quote based on the gist of what they said, and providing you make the person sound reasonably intelligent, they will often believe that they did actually say that in the interview, especially if it was a lengthy interview where they won't recall every word they really did say. When you interview people for real, they 'um' and 'err' stutter and mumble, repeat things etc, so it is almost always the case that you paraphrase what they said, and they are invariably glad you did too, because if you wrote what they really said word for word, including all the pauses, repeats and slips of the tongue, they'd sound like an idiot. But since that is the case, you can slip things in there which may not really have been said, or perhaps only hinted at.There is a possible example of that technique in the linked story, where the 'retired expert' cites the use of a stealth helicopter as confirmation that the Pakistani authorities were not told anything about the mission. This is not proof at all, it could just as easily have been for a more obvious reason, such as the suspicion that there may have been some man portable IR or radar-guided SAMs in the compound where the helicopter had to land, in which case using a helicopter that masked its IR and radar signature would be a sensible precaution. But if you make it a 'quote' from an expert, or miss out something else they said, people tend think it is the only plausible explanation.Al

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Very interesting stuff indeed. I remember when the whole F-19 story was going on; F-19 Stealth Fighter was actually my first flight simulator. Of course it didn't bear much resemblance to the F-117 but the speculation was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to seeing what becomes of this one.

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The notion of a 'stealth helicopter always makes me laugh; I guess that'd be a helicopter you can only hear from three miles away instead of six LOL. Of course, I know it will really be about radar returns and jamming rather than sound levels, since there isn't really a great deal they can do about the supersonic slap noises a rotor blade makes beyond sweeping the tips back a bit, but they can certainly do something about spoofing laser and IR seekers.
Actually Al, that is not actually, ugh, accurate (quoting the Secretary of Defense to the President on the 747 after departing D.C. in the movie; "Independance Day". Remember when they arrived at Area 51 and the Pres asked, "Where did you get the money to fund all this UFO stuff?" ). There has been a rather considerable amount of money spent on reducing the acoustic signature of both the main and tail rotor. The NOTAR (No TAil Rotor) was just one example. Not only was it designed to remove hazards of the supersonic tail rotor, it was also an attempt to quiet the effect of the assembly. There has been a considerable amount of work done on main rotor blade tips and that supersonic speed that you refer to as well. If you look at the photo of the tail rotor from the compound, you will notice that the blades have two characteristics that are not normally associated with typical tail rotors... First, the blades are relatively speaking, spaced a mile or two away from each other. The other thing you might have noticed is the rather "squared" look of the blade, particularly the blade tip. What you can't see (or at least I couldn't) was any indication of blade angle relative to the hub. And, had there been a visible angle, would it have been at neutral pitch or not? The application of stealth technology to a helicopter should not come as a surprise to anyone. The technology has been there since before the Northrup B2, so pasting it to an UH 60 comes as no surprise. But, when it comes to detection, assume that the copter is totally silent (yeah, I know, impossible)... Given silence and no radar signature, is it detectable anyway? Yup... Just get yourself an IR camera and you will see the blade tip static discharges ten miles away (unless they have come up with a way to eliminate that, which I doubt).

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To be honest my comment was a bit tongue in cheek Tom (good film Independence Day by the way, I really like that movie), since at the time I wrote that, one of the North West Air Ambulances was over my house at really low level as I looked at this thread. It tends to land on a couple of football fields in a park just up the road from me if it needs to get down anywhere near my house (that's an EC 135 T2, callsign Helimed 08 but more fondly known as Katie, if anyone was curious). That one is indeed fairly noisy, despite having a tail rotor shroud, although it's not as noisy as the one the police use (an MD-900, callsign India 99) which seems to love circling over my house at 3am for some reason, which I suspect is the crew practicing with their IR searchlight on some fields near me. That, ironically enough, is a NOTAR type chopper, but it doesn't seem to have made it any quieter!I know military choppers have been a bit quieter ever since they put the non-cruciform tail rotor on the Hughes AH-64, which is one of the more visually apparent means of quietening down the tail rotor since it apparently breaks up compression waves a bit better, and it appears that wreckage had a tail rotor like that. I'm guessing the hubcap over it was some kind of signal shield rather than something to block the sound, but that is just a guess, although I do know that one of the things fighter radars use to identify a bogey's type by, is the signature of the engine fans when it is closing head on, so I'm assuming a spinning tail rotor is something that's a pretty good target source for radars.Al

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Excuse my lack of knowledge when it comes to helos, but I'm curious about how it's been reported that there were two going in and only one made it out. The limited reading I've done said there were 25 members of the U.S. force involved in the mission. Is that number what others have gleaned from around the web? If so, they all came out on one helo? And had some additional payload versus when they went in. So is the two incoming accurate, leaving one outgoing? If so, wouldn't that exceed the payload (published, at least) for a UH-60? Maybe there was a stretched version?Overall, I'm left with the thought that there was more than two going in or if that is the case, then the one going away seems to be something heavily modified and enlarged or something people don't know about? No conspiracy theory proposed, I'm just trying to make the reported numbers add up, both in manpower and equipment.

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According to this DailyMail story (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1382859/Osama-bin-Laden-dead-Photo-Obama-watching-Al-Qaeda-leader-die-live-TV.html) it looks like four helos went in, and due to the destruction of the one left behind, the other three were used to pull the team out. It's my understanding that the intention may have been to remove additional OBL's family members and/or guards, but they weren't able to and had to leave them behind because of the disabled helicopter.

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There was probably a back up chopper or two and certainly there would have been SAR and medevac choppers at a holding point to support the main force in case things went awry. In fact there was probably an entire reserve back up squad also trained in completing the mission in case the first team didn't make it.When it comes to military missions and especially covert ops ones, they are unlikely to ever reveal all the tactical details, for obvious reasons, and may even deliberately put out erroneous info, and curiosity aside, we should understand why that is so and not want it otherwise. But let's put it this way, if I'd been hunting a target for ten years and finally got my chance to get at them, I'd be damn sure that every angle was covered, after all, the last time they tried to get the target, they used too few troops thinking it would be a walkover, and the target slipped away. Thus I'm assuming that there were units all over the place for that contingency, based on the notion that they weren't gonna make the same mistake again. So that'd be everything from diversionary raids keeping radars and potential fighter opposition busy and all kinds of other clever stuff in addition to the guys actually on the main mission.Here's an example of that kind of clever stuff such sneaky special units get up to, which just goes to show that they generally know what works: Many years ago, there was an airliner that got hijacked and landed in Africa, and there was a plan to storm the aircraft whilst it was on the ground. But rather than simply go for it, what they did was wait until the nighttime, and then at about 3am, the spec ops guys set fire to a big pile of rubbish across the airfield more or less directly in front of the airliner. They did that so the terrorists would all be curious as to what that fire could be, and they all went up to the cockpit for a look, which is when the attack commenced. As a result, none of the passengers were hurt in the assault. Clever stuff eh? But such ideas only work if you don't make them too well known, so details like that rarely get mentioned.Al

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The team of "Seals" did a fine job of destroying the chopper. I heard incendiary grenades and the like were used to destroy most of the chopper (obviously besides the tail section).

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Excuse my lack of knowledge when it comes to helos, but I'm curious about how it's been reported that there were two going in and only one made it out. The limited reading I've done said there were 25 members of the U.S. force involved in the mission. Is that number what others have gleaned from around the web? If so, they all came out on one helo? And had some additional payload versus when they went in. So is the two incoming accurate, leaving one outgoing? If so, wouldn't that exceed the payload (published, at least) for a UH-60? Maybe there was a stretched version?Overall, I'm left with the thought that there was more than two going in or if that is the case, then the one going away seems to be something heavily modified and enlarged or something people don't know about? No conspiracy theory proposed, I'm just trying to make the reported numbers add up, both in manpower and equipment.
If I recall, (from local TV news) there were 2 additional helicopters standing by - just beyond the border - at leats one was a chinook.I'll believe a 'quiet' blackhawk when I see it ;)But - there's a, much smaller, helicopter that flies in my area that's downright pleasant, it's so quiet. Even on a peaceful evening.Must be those short rotors, I guess.

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The notion of a 'stealth helicopter always makes me laugh; I guess that'd be a helicopter you can only hear from three miles away instead of six LOL. Of course, I know it will really be about radar returns and jamming rather than sound levels, since there isn't really a great deal they can do about the supersonic slap noises a rotor blade makes beyond sweeping the tips back a bit, but they can certainly do something about spoofing laser and IR seekers.That tail wreckage does more or less look like the UH-60's layout as far as the elevator and rotor position in relation to one another are concerned, even though there are clearly some radical differences such as the sweep of the elevators, so it may indeed be a tarted up Blackhawk, but it clearly isn't some knocked up five minute field modification. It's certainly intriguing.Time to take the hammer to my Alphasim Blackhawk I guess... :( Al
The US actually did develop a Stealth Helicopter called the RAH-66 Comanche. It was a Gunship, and was suppose to be the successor to the Apache until the project got cancelled. There were flyable prototypes produced though. (Like the F-19, they made a video game out of this too). In addition there are unmanned helicopters in use today that is said to have stealth characteristics.

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Too bad the Americans lost this helicopter. Looks like Pakistan could sell the wreckage to China so they can analize the materials.

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The US actually did develop a Stealth Helicopter called the RAH-66 Comanche. It was a Gunship, and was suppose to be the successor to the Apache until the project got cancelled. There were flyable prototypes produced though. (Like the F-19, they made a video game out of this too). In addition there are unmanned helicopters in use today that is said to have stealth characteristics.
The RAH-66 wasn't actually supposed to be the replacement for the AH-64 Apache, it was intended to be a supplement to types such as the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior and the OH-6 Cayuse, i.e. it was not an all-out gunship, but rather more of an armed reconnaissance type with some stealth characteristics. This was so it could more safely pop up from the cover of trees to designate targets and datalink the target acquisition info to AH-64 Apaches whereupon they would launch Hellfire missiles from behind cover, the main scenario being engaging main battle tanks on the open plains of Germany if the Cold War ever kicked off.The notion of making the recon choppers harder to target was based on combat experience in Vietnam (which is also the experience that led to the Blackhawks design to replace the Huey). In Vietnam, it was the recon choppers such as the Kiowa and the Cayuse that suffered the most attrition. The US Army canceled the RAH-66 because the role which was envisioned to be its main combat scenario became increasingly unlikely after the Berlin Wall came down, and instead the OH-58 and the AH-64 Longbow variant got telescoping target designator masts mounted above the main rotor hub which are the only bit that gets exposed to the target when they are raised.Unmanned helicopters with stealth characteristics are mainly based on either the MH-6 or more often the civilian Hughes 500 version; they are intended largely to be a cheap UAV solution for foreign armies and export sales. although US special forces units do use the MH-6.Al

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In studying the photos, one of the more interesting things is that there appears to be no visible rivets, screwheads, bolts, etc. visible in any of the photos. I know that a smooth surface is one key ingredient of stealth design, but given the amount of maintenance needed on moving parts like a tail rotor, it must make maintenance a real pain on this helicopter. Also, the tail is not entirely the uniform grey "stealth" color. The underside of the tail cone is black or dark grey with a sharp demarcation line which indicates it is a seperate panel and not a shadow. An antenna housing perhaps? There is also a dark diamond shape on top of the rotor housing that might be a vent.The horizontal tailplane also appears to move the same way as the Blackhawk's does. At the base of the tailplane, you can see an arc panel that probably indicates the degree of sweep the tailplane moves through.

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Update- A story I found on a Pakistan Defense website had a link to this story that says the crash was due to a vortex ring state developing as the helo came into land.Bloomberg

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That's what you get for practicing on the Aerosoft Huey LOL (it doesn't simulate VRS)Al

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