May 5, 2011

Stealth helo, FTW 

So, we don't get bin Laden headshot pictures... for now. But nevermind that. I am geekin' out so hard over this thing, I almost sicken myself. The implications of this helo are so game changing that it is hard to overstate. We obviously had the capability to get Special Operators where we wanted them, but now the whole world knows - especially the bad guys - that sleeping with one eye open ain't enough. They CAN'T sleep. EVER. And that gets tiring after awhile.

While the largest parts and pieces of this "stealth" helicopter are almost assuredly crated up and on their way to Beijing right now, I'm not entirely convinced that that is such a horrific turn of events. There are a couple reasons for this.

First, somebody, somewhere, made the determination that the juice was worth the squeeze sending these things in on the bin Laden raid. In an op like this, with the amount of planning time available, it wasn't like these guys were casting about looking for any ol' ride into the LZ that they could find. This was thought out, strategized and war gamed into the ground, and at least ONE operational consideration had to be the loss of a helo and its very existence being compromised. In the end, the size of the prize was deemed worth the risk... and I happen to agree with that assessment, whoever made it.

Second – and this is actually more to the point - how OLD is this tech? In all probability, this was not this helo's first rodeo. I'd be willing to bet everything I own that this thing didn't just roll off an assembly line somewhere last week. How long did it take for us to admit that the F-117 existed? Seven, eight years? Around a decade before anybody really got a good look at it when it went to Desert Storm? By then it was 1990, and the design was based in the mid-1970's. One could argue that by the time the public knew about it, it was no longer the state of the art, as the B-2 was already a more advanced capability. So if this helo falls into the same timeline – and granted, we didn’t make a conscious decision to expose it, but… - that means that we’re really talking about some kind of tech from… the mid-90’s? That begs the question: what are we working on NOW?... I just got chills thinking about it.

Furthermore, some of this technology is likely not as secret as most people think. For instance, check this out:

That’s available to civilians who want to reduce the noise inside their exec-helo transports when they move VIPs around between business meetings, and it started flight testing – in the civilian sector, remember – back in 2007. Take that noise signature, slap some radar absorbing/IR reducing paint on the airframe and you can start to see how this thing is a beast. And speaking of Beasts, don’t forget about other toys that we possibly used in this raid that we admit we have… and that’s all…

In summation, I actually think that this is a net propaganda GAIN… especially when combined with the fact that the raid got Uncle Binny. It tells our enemies that their future prospects are actually worse than they thought. It’s an unambiguous message to Pakistan that we have NO confidence in them (something they already must have known, but is now on display for everyone). It lets the rest of world know that America can still take care of business when the stakes are high, and that we can still create the most badass gear in the world without outsourcing it. In short, just knowing there IS a “stealth” helo probably has greater impact than actually seeing it and knowing what it does. The imagination runs wild at the possibilities.

The title of this post by the way, in its current incarnation, is a video game reference and not the… ahem… “saltier” term (see #2 at the link) that some of you old hands might be more familiar with (and for that matter how I first heard it used lo, those many moons ago, when I joined the Corps). I use it here because (1) I’m a gamer, and (2) that’s the next stop for this helo in our current pop-folklore: video games.

And in other media, today’s recommended reading is the “Super Hawks” series by Mack Maloney, which I’ve mentioned before... a very, very, very, long time ago now that I look at it. Back then, it was good fiction. Now? It could serve as the basis for a docudrama, apparently…

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