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A photo taken by a local resident, shows the wreckage of a helicopter next to the wall of the compound wherem according to officials, Osama bin Laden was shot and killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011. (Mohammad Zubair/AP/Mohammad Zubair/AP)

A photo taken by a local resident, shows the wreckage of a helicopter next to the wall of the compound wherem according to officials, Osama bin Laden was shot and killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011.

(Mohammad Zubair/AP/Mohammad Zubair/AP)

Wreckage of U.S. copter in bin Laden raid mystifies aviation analysts Add to ...

Black Hawk down. Well, not quite.

The helicopter that failed and was blown up by U.S. special forces after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was a never-before-seen stealthy design, and presumably top-secret, leaving aviation and military analysts both mystified and fascinated.

The only parts that survived were its smoothed tail, apparently coated with radar-defeating reflective surfaces, and a five- or six-bladed tail rotor, designed to minimize noise and radar signature.

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Applying stealth and noise-reduction technologies to helicopters is difficult because long, whirling rotor blades are ideal for creating a big radar reflection. But various designs for stealth helicopters have emerged in recent years. Some analysts suggest this helicopter was a much-modified Black Hawk, a type already in the special forces inventory.

The tail was last seen being hauled away by a Pakistani with a tractor. The Pentagon will want it back. No doubt Chinese and Russian military experts would pay dearly to have a look.

For web readers, click on the infographic link at left for a detailed look at the stealth chopper.

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