Defense Media Network

Fallen Stealth Chopper Leaves Clues in Bin Laden Raid

May 6, 2011: Renowned defense analyst and regular Defense Media Network contributor John Gresham was interviewed by Eliot Spitzer on CNN’s “In the Arena” and talks about the new model stealth aircraft used by Special Ops in the bin Laden raid.

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    The picture before the video plays seems to show the remains of the downed helicopter. It’s hard to imagine that anything was recoverable from this. But there are other images of large parts of the copter that seemed intact.

    What sort of destruction protocols exist in a case like this? Do we know how big or what type of charge was used to destroy the airframe? And finally, since this pile of metal was left behind, is there any evidence to suggest that Pakistan is trying to reverse engineer parts of the aircraft?

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    Chuck Oldham (Editor)

    The theories of stealth shaping and stealth materials are fairly widely known, but the devil’s in the details. Someone might be able to analyze the materials and coatings, but that doesn’t mean they’d be able to duplicate them, and if they could, that they could apply them to the structure beneath in an effective way so that they would stay adhered. And the airframe would also have to have very minimal gaps between doors and panels. Back in the F-117 days, ground crew used to “butter” the aircraft with RAM putty to fill gaps in the coatings.
    It seems like the electronic gear and vast majority of the helo were thoroughly destroyed, but I’m honestly not sure what kind of charges would be used for that. I’m sure there was plenty of fuel to help things along once they were ignited, though.