Despite the crash of one of the U.S.'s Black Hawk stealth helicopters, the aircraft which had previously been a well-kept secret may have been key to the success of the raid that led to Osama bin Laden’s death.
One of the helicopters was blown apart during the assault, but photographs of the tail section that remained in Pakistan show modifications to quiet noise and reduce chances of radar detection.
The New York Times reports that people in the helicopter industry said the rear section looked nothing like the tail of a regular Black Hawk helicopter. They said it looked like the Black Hawk had added some of the features of the proposed stealth helicopter Comanche, which was canceled by the Pentagon in 2004.
Another reported that the downed helicopter had five or six blades in its tail rotor, as opposed to the usual four in a Black Hawk. That may have permitted operators to slow the rotor speed and reduce the familiar chop-chop sound made by most helicopters.
Daniel Goure, a defense specialist at the Lexington Institute think tank, said the helicopter crash may have been caused by the unusual aerodynamics which came from the aircraft's modifications.
"It could be much more difficult to fly at slow speed and landing than you would expect from a typical Black Hawk," Goure said to the Huffington Post.
It had been thought that the Navy SEAL teams in the attack had used modified MH-60 Black Hawk or Sea Hawk helicopters in the raid of the compound.
Mail Online reports the Black Hawk has a crew of three or four and can carry 11 soldiers prepared for combat. It first began flying in 1978.