There are lots of surprising claims in Chuck Pfarrer’s new book SEAL Target Geronimo, a supposedly inside account of the May 2 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound — and none more surprising than this. The former commando-turned-author Pfarrer insists the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment possesses not one, but two stealth transport helicopter designs. The stealthier of the two was held back from the mission for fear of one crashing and giving up its secrets, Pfarrer claims.
That was a perfectly valid fear, it turned out. The outside world became aware of the 160th SOAR’s stealthy choppers after one of them crashed inside bin Laden’s compound, leaving behind an intact tail rotor, pictured, whose design elements point to reduced sonic, infrared and radar signatures.
In the days following the raid, aviation journalist David Cenciotti produced a digital mockup of the new copter. Danger Room revealed the chopper’s nickname: “Airwolf.” And ace Army Times reporter Sean Naylor spoke to a 160th SOAR source who unveiled the Airwolf’s origins. The radar-evading rotorcraft were modified UH-60 Blackhawks with angular fuselages and the special “hubcap” tail. Naylor reports that Lockheed Martin built four or so of the tricked-out birds around the year 2000 before the contract was canceled.