May 6, 2011

Secret choppers played key role in bin Laden raid

Robert Burns, The Associated Press

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A truck carries away what are thought to be parts of the wreckage of the U.S. helicopter that crashed next to the wall of Osama bin Laden's compound. A Pentagon official declined to say today whether Pakistan is resisting U.S. efforts to retrieve the chopper's remains.


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But the modifications that suppressed noise from the helicopters — including the use of extra blades in the tail rotor and placement of a hubcap-like cover on the rotor — may have been sufficient to allow the assault teams to get on the ground before bin Laden and his security guards could mount enough of a defense to slow the SEALS; only one of the defenders was said to have gotten off a shot.
Noise suppression, Goure said, is "a huge advantage in these kinds of strikes."

Some elements of that noise suppression technology were visible in photos of the tail section that was left behind. The main body of the helo was blown up by the SEALs before they left with bin Laden's body, apparently in order to prevent the exposure of other secret stealth components.

A Pentagon spokesman, Marine Col. David Lapan, declined to say today whether Pakistan was resisting U.S. efforts to retrieve the remains of the chopper.

Sweetman said it was remarkable that the SEALs managed to swoop into the compound and catch the bin Laden party by surprise.

"They're probably expecting that someday they could get a visit from (U.S.) Special Forces," he said.

"But they would also be expecting to hear helicopters for a few minutes before they arrive overhead. If your first warning is that you hear the thing and then you look up and it's right there, you've lost valuable time."


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