BIN LADEN: What Downed the Raiders’ Helicopter? (Update)

May 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm Leave a comment

McKeon: Cause Was Heat, Dark and High Walls — Not Mechanical Failure

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee says it was not a mechanical problem that caused the loss of a stealthy U.S. helicopter during the commando raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

U.S. Air Force rescue team jumps from an Army MH-60 Black Hawk during water rescue exercise. (Photo by Senior Airman Julianne Showalter)

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon said that while hovering in the dark inside the high-walled compound where the head of the al Qaeda terrorist network had been hiding, the “back of the helicopter hit the wall”

Additionally, the California Republican said, there was a 15-degree temperature difference within the compound and the air outside. “The lift of the helicopter depends on the temperature,” McKeon said. Because of that, the helo “couldn’t hold the hover” to allow the Navy SEALS to slide down ropes to the ground. So the pilots made a hard landing to get the raiders out as quickly as possible. “It was not a mechanical failure,” said McKeon nor was it an error by the pilot. “Just a little miscalculation on the temperature.”

No SEALS were lost during the 40-minute mission in Abbottabad, Pakistan in which Bin Laden was killed and his body taken away by raiders who also seized documents and computer hard drives. Officials have said the damaged helicopter could not take off and was destroyed by the departing special operations forces, although part of the tail survived and was carted away by Pakistani security officials.

In addition to Bin Laden, four people, three men and one woman, were shot and killed in the raid, officials said. The slain woman was not Bin Laden’s wife and he did not use any woman as a human shield — as previously reported — they added.

After photos of the wrecked helicopter’s tail section were published, there has been much speculation that it was a previously unknown version of the MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that apparently had been modified to be extra quiet and possibly equipped with stealth technology to thwart radar detection.

McKeon’s remarks about the raid came following a speech on defense spending and acquisition reform at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington.

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Entry filed under: Afghanistan, National Security and Defense, Pakistan, Special Operations, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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