When the above photograph appeared on the homepage of the Washington Post Wednesday afternoon, my colleague said, “That is the weirdest looking helicopter. It looks like a toy.”
She was not the only one thrown off by the crashed helicopter left behind by the Navy SEALS during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The helicopter is unlike any other seen before, and has the aviation world throwing up all sorts of guesses at it tries to classify the machine.
CIA director Leon Panetta said on Tuesday that the teams were carried in two Black Hawk helicopters, so many in the aviation industry speculate that it is a modified version, with tweaks to the design to increase its stealth and speed.
David Axe at Wired has a great roundup of the hypotheses flying around the Internet, but says the most likely candidate is a upgraded, stealth-optimized MH-60. Axe suggests that the super stealth helicopter was needed not just to hide from bin Laden’s detection, but also to avoid notice by Pakistani troops — perhaps further evidence of the notion that the U.S. did not trust Pakistan.
Defense Tech has rounded up renderings of what the stealth helicopter may have looked like.
It all adds to the mystery of the super secret raid.