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Exclusive: The Unveiling of the Stealthy Black Hawk Aircraft in Its First-Ever Image

We are constantly seeking more information about the U.S. military’s highly secretive Black Hawk helicopters, including any possible earlier versions that preceded them, such as the one that crashed during the 2011 mission that led to the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

Recently, we became aware of an unpublished image that appears to show a heavily modified EH-60 electronic warfare and signals intelligence variant of the Black Hawk, which is believed to be one of the links between the Black Hawks used on the Bin Laden mission and earlier stealthy Black Hawk designs dating back to the 1970s. The image is undated, but is thought to have been taken at Fort Eustis in Virginia, which is home to the Flight Concepts Division (FCD), now called the Aviation Technology Office (ATO), responsible for leading the development of the stealth Black Hawks used during the Bin Laden raid and many of the U.S. Army’s most advanced and secretive rotary-wing capabilities.

he helicopter seen in the photo is clearly a heavily modified Sikorsky EH-60 variant, but it is not clear if it is an EH-60A or EH-60L version. Both of these helicopters carried versions of the AN/ALQ-151 Quick Fix system, which was capable of both intercepting hostile electronic emissions and providing direction-finding information to locate the source, as well as electronic warfare jamming. The helicopter’s most notable features are the extreme modifications to the nose, “doghouse,” engine intakes and exhausts, and rotor hub, which are designed to reduce its radar signature, particularly from the critical forward hemisphere aspect.

It is also worth noting that the modified engine intakes on this Black Hawk help conceal the fan faces of its two turbine engines and clean up the area around the engine nacelles and forward doghouse area, all features that traditionally have a high degree of radar reflectivity. However, this helicopter has no modifications to its tail rotor, which would have negatively impacted its all-aspect radar reflectivity and especially its acoustic signature.

There is a possibility that this helicopter is an evolutionary stepping stone, or an earlier iteration, of what would eventually lead to the now-famous but never-seen “Stealth Hawks.”

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