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Stealth choppers spelt Osama's doom

world Updated: May 06, 2011 01:14 IST

US elite Navy Seals team 6 used top secret, never-before-seen stealth helicopters to swoop down on an unsuspecting al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad safe haven and shoot him dead.

One of the secret choppers was disabled during the raid by the Seals, blowing it up in an apparent bid to ensure that the forntline technology did not fall into non-US hands.

The secret choppers have been kept under wraps by Pentagon and their use for the key mission suggests that the US military did not want to take any chances in the raid.

Pentagon officials are still quiet on whether or not stealth choppers were used, but ABC news citing American aviators said that photos of what survived the explosion has sent military analysts buzzing about a stealth helicopter programme that was only rumoured to exist.

Former defence officials say the modified variant of the Sikrosky H-60 Blackhawk features extra blades on the tail rotor allowing it to fly significantly less noisily and also has low observable technology similar to that of F-117 stealth fighter to enable it to evade Pakistan air force detection radars.

Aviation Week reports that it also has a "silver paint" that changes its thermal profile making it difficult for heat-seeking missiles to lock on.

The choppers appear to have a modified tail boom to a noise reducing covering on the rear rotors and a special high-tech material similar to that used in stealth fighters.

Top former Pentagon officials say the bird is like nothing they have seen before.

A former special operations aviator told The Army Times the general shape of what was left of the craft was further evidence it was a modified variant of the Blackhawk.

Neighbours of bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, told ABC News they didn't hear the helicopters the night of the Sunday raid until they were directly overhead. The rotor covering, along with a special rotor design, suppressed the choppers noise.