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Stealth helicopter
Rah-66 w apache 02.jpg
A stealthy RAH-66 Comanche (front) flying in formation with a non-stealthy AH-64 Apache (back)

Stealth helicopters are helicopters that incorporate stealth technology to avoid detection.[1] In recent years, designs for blades have emerged that can significantly reduce noise,[2] which is a major issue for clandestine use of helicopters.[3] A raid on the compound of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 utilized what appeared to be two Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks, heavily modified for quieter operations and employing stealth technology to be less visible to radar.[4][5]


Artist's concept drawing of a modified Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk

Orthographically projected diagram of the UH-60A Black Hawk for comparison

There have been a few stealth helicopters:[6][7][N 1][N 2]

  • A modified Hughes 500P (1972), nicknamed "The Quiet One" had reduced noise operation capability and was used once by the CIA during the Vietnam War to deploy a wiretap.[9]
  • The Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche (1996-2004) is a stealth helicopter; the type was intended for to be used for reconnaissance missions by the US Army, however the development project was cancelled during the prototype stage due to escalating costs and considerable technical issues experienced.[4]
  • One or multiple of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks used in the raid upon Osama bin Laden's compound on 1 May 2011 are believed to have featured stealth technologies. These features are said to include specialized materials, and the use of harsh angles and flat surfaces across the exterior fuselage, techniques previously employed upon other stealth aircraft.[10][11][12][13][14]
  • Several helicopters, such as the HAL Light Combat Helicopter and Eurocopter Tiger, are said to feature presence-reduction measures or 'stealth'. The use of advanced composite materials on the airframe has commonly resulting in reductions in an aircraft's radar cross-section (RCS).[15] In the case of the Eurocopter Tiger, measures were taken to produce minimal visual, radar, infra-red and acoustic signatures to improve battlefield survivability.[16][17] HAL's Light Combat Helicopter is reported to feature a digital camouflage system.[18]

See also


  1. An "Invisible Loach", a modified Hughes OH-6 Cayuse, was allegedly tested in the 1970s, using an external mesh of little white lights to match the ambient light of the sky.[3]
  2. Bill Tuttle is an Aircraft Instructor (Ground/Flight) at Westar Aerospace and Defense Group with an extensive background in helicopters and recent service in Iraq, working with the armed forces there.[8]
  1. Richardson 2001, p. 49.
  2. Nusca, Andrew. "Silent rotor blades could lead to true stealth helicopters." SmartPlanet, 2 March 2010. Retrieved: 6 May 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Axe, David "Aviation Geeks Scramble to ID bin Laden Raid’s Mystery Copter." Wired, 4 May 2011. Retrieved: 9 May 2011. Note: Axe quotes a military blog by Bill Tuttle, aviation technician and consultant.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Geoghegan, Tom and Sarah Shenker. "Stealth helicopters used in Bin Laden raid." BBC News, 5 May 2011. Retrieved: 7 May 2011.
  5. Than, Ker. "Top Secret Copter Used in Osama bin Laden Raid, Experts Say." TechNewsDaily, 6 May 2011. Retrieved: 7 May 2011.
  6. Dartford 2004, p. 26.
  7. Singer 2009, p. 206.
  8. "Profile: Bill Tuttle." LinkedIn. Retrieved: 10 May 2011.
  9. Chiles, James R. "Air America's Black Helicopter." Air & Space Smithsonian, February–March 2008, pp. 62–70. ISSN 0886-2257. Retrieved: 6 May 2011.
  10. Ross, Brian, Rhonda Schwartz, Lee Ferran and Avni Patel. "Top Secret Stealth Helicopter Program Revealed in Osama Bin Laden Raid: Experts." ABC World News. 4 May 2011.
  11. Naylor, Sean D. and Marcus Weisgerber. "Army mission helicopter was secret, stealth Black Hawk." Army Times, 4 May 2011. Retrieved: 7 May 2011.
  12. Gunner, Jerry. "Just what was the mystery US stealth-copter?" Key Publishing, 5 May 2011.
  13. Sweetman, Bill. "Bin Laden Raid Crash Helo Reveals Stealth". Aviation Week, 6 May 2011. Retrieved: 8 May 2011.
  14. Trimble, Stephen. "Pakistan raid reveals US Army’s helicopter secret". Flight International, 6 May 2011. Retrieved: 8 May 2011.
  16. Moxon 1995, p. 103.
  17. "Tiger - Technology." Eurocopter, Retrieved: 17 February 2013.
  • Dartford, Mark. Helicopters (Military Hardware in Action). Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publishing Group, 2004. ISBN 978-0-8225-4707-5.
  • Richardson, Doug. Stealth Warplanes. Minneapolis, MN: Zenith Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-7603-1051-9.
  • Singer, P. W. Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century. New York: Penguin, 2009. ISBN 0-14-311684-3.

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