Stealth craft in bin Laden raid has Nevada ties

Radar-evading technology for the mysterious helicopters that carried out the U.S. special operations raid of Osama bin Laden’s walled compound in Pakistan was spawned in the early 1990s at the classified Area 51 installation in Southern Nevada, according to sources close to the black projects facility.

One source familiar with operations at the secret location along Groom Dry Lake, 90 miles north of Las Vegas, said a smaller version stealth helicopter — an angular, two-seat McDonnell Douglas 500 with sharp edges, riveted body, gull-wing doors and black-brown coating — would fly “two or three times a day” during 1992 and 1993.

“The rotors, the entire body and even the canopy system on it was all integrated into that material,” said the source, who spoke on the condition he not be identified because of security obligations.

The source said the craft was difficult to land. ” It had to land on a special trailer so it could be maneuvered into the hangar,” he said, noting that the landing gear consisted of skids, not wheels.

His account confirmed a Review-Journal story from 1995 that quoted an unnamed former base employee who said the project was code-named “T.E.-K,” which stood for “Test and Evaluation Project K.”

At least two of the prototype stealth helicopters were stored near the southern end of the installation in Hangar 8, according to accounts from both sources.

The Groom Lake source on Friday said, “This was the test bed, the original one, to see if you could exploit it and turn it into something bigger.”

He said work began on stealth helicopters at the installation in the early 1990s following production of the F-117A Nighthawk attack jet that was tested there and developed under a tightly guarded program.

And, that’s what apparently happened with black project helicopters 16 years after the Review-Journal revealed the existence of Project K, according to John Pike, director of, a military information website. The radar-evading helicopters that shuttled Navy SEALs to bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, could have evolved from the Groom Lake test bed in the early 1990s.

The raid aroused the curiosity of aviation buffs after one of the helicopters made a hard landing. The SEAL team blew up most of the crippled aircraft before they barreled out of the compound, but the tail section with a “hubcap” to hide movement of the rear rotor and reduce noise remained intact.

“I would have no way of knowing whether it was technology from the test bed applied to the MH-60 or a prototype for an entirely new design,” Pike said.

“I suspect from looking at the wreckage that it’s a heavily modified MH-60 (Black Hawk) but that’s erring on the side of caution.”

He surmised that the bin Laden raid helicopters were probably tested against foreign radar systems around the high-tech Area 51 installation. While there are other locations to do such testing, Pike said, “Groom Lake is the best place in the world where you’re not going to be seen.”

Pike estimated there aren’t many of these larger stealth helicopters in existence. “It would not be very many. In the low dozens.”

He said today’s black program budgets are “somewhere in the billions and billions of dollars.” They are as big as the so-called Star Wars era of the Reagan administration “except under Reagan we knew where it was being spent. Today we don’t.”

The beginning of the military’s stealth development efforts predated the Reagan administration when Ben Rich, Lockheed Martin’s “father of the stealth,” started the F-117 design in December 1978 at the Skunk Works plant in Palmdale, Calif. The full-blown combat version followed successful test flights at Area 51 of a prototype, dubbed Have Blue.

The F-117 fighter-attack jet made its first flight on June 18, 1981, and the first war-fighting Nighthawks were based at the Tonopah Test Range.

They launched the era of using stealth technology to attack heavily protected, high-value targets.

After the stealth program was declassified in November 1988, the first warplanes were deployed in combat over Panama during Operation Just Cause in December 1989 to help spur the surrender of military dictator Manuel Noriega.

In the Persian Gulf War in 1991, 36 F-117As bolstered the allied effort against Iraq by bombing targets in Baghdad.

The original wing at Tonopah on Nellis Air Force Range was relocated to Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., after the Persian Gulf War, with the first plane arriving at Holloman in May 1992.

Fifty-nine production models were made, with the last rolling off the line at Lockheed’s Palmdale plant on July 12, 1990. Seven were destroyed in crashes, including one lost in combat over Yugoslavia on March 27, 1999, in the Kosovo war effort.

Two F-117As spearheaded the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. They flew unescorted over Baghdad and dropped bombs on Dora Farms, where intelligence sources thought Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was hiding.

Besides radar-evading helicopters, the F-117A with its oblique, batlike shape and secret black coating blazed the trail for today’s stealth jet, the F-22 Raptor, which, with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is replacing the Nighthawk.

On April 22, 2008, the last four Nighthawks arrived at the Tonopah Test Range where the fleet was retired. The black jets are mothballed in hangars in classified storage with their wings unbolted .

High School Senior Wins Writing Scholarship
Kye "Kai" Catarata was presented with a $1,000 scholarship at the Las Vegas Writer's Conference Saturday at the Tuscany Suites and Casino.
It's a Boy! Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth to Third Child
It's a Boy! Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth to Third Child Kensington Palace announced that Prince William and Princess Kate traveled by car to the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in central London Monday. The child was born at 11:01 a.m. local time, weighing 8lbs 7oz. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well. Kensington Palace The new addition will be fifth in line to the throne, Queen Elizabeth II's sixth great-grandchild and third grandchild of Charles, Prince of Wales. Catherine and Harry married in 2011 and have two other children, Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, who turns 3 next month.
Dr. Abbatangelo: Professor, Pageant Queen and Animal Dentist
Dr. Tina M. Abbatangelo, a professor of clinical practice at UNLV dentist school spends her free time and money traveling across the country to help treat exotic animals.
Joseph Otting, U.S. comptroller of the currency during an interview with RJ
Joseph Otting, U.S. comptroller of the currency during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Otting oversees all national banks, credit unions, mutual savings banks, coops and the federal branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Paris Wade discusses about his “Liberty Writers” website
Paris Wade, who made national headlines for operating a fake news website and boasts about getting President Donald Trump elected in 2016, speaks during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday, April 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Wade is running for Nevada Assembly. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Police Unity Tour from New Jersey to Washington D.C. to commemorate fallen officers.
Las Vegas Metro police and Henderson police officers ride their bikes during the Vegas Team's last practice rides in preparation for the Police Unity Tour from New Jersey to Washington D.C. to commemorate fallen officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review Journal @bizutesfaye
UNLV students walk out of class on national walkout day
UNLV students and supporters chanted, marched and rallied on national walkout day Friday, April 20 on the 19th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Captain Sasha Larkin Discusses Challenges, Progress in North West
Captain Sasha Larkin, of Metro's Northwest Area Command, discusses what issues face the northwest valley's residents and what police are doing to address them.
Southwest giving passengers on deadly flight $5,000 for compensation
Passengers on Flight 1380 have been receiving checks as a gesture of goodwill from the airline.
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
LVMPD Arrests Suspect in Sunset Park Shooting
Captain Robert Plummer held a press conference at LVMPD headquarters Thursday to provide updates on the arrest of Anthony J. Wrobel, accused of killing a Venetian executive and wounding one other in a shooting on Sunday.
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson sat down with ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Thursday and said the Starbucks manager called the police two minutes after they arrived. Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' The men were meeting with a friend for a business meeting at the store’s location at around 3:45 pm on April 12 and declined to make any purchases. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued a public apology and vowed to fix the issue by closing 8,000 stores nationwide next month for training on unconscious bias. Both Nelson and Robinson were released without charges after spending hours in jail, and the manager is no longer with the company.
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots Tammie Jo Shults is being called a hero after safely landing the crippled Southwest Flight 1380 in Philadelphia. According to a spokesperson, Shults began her Navy career in 1985 and was one of the first female pilots to “transition to tactical aircraft.” She served for another eight years before moving to the Naval Reserve, retiring completely in 2001 with the rank of Lt. Commander. The Southwest flight, which was headed for Dallas from New York, was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engines blew. One passenger was killed in the explosion when shrapnel flew through a window. Seven others suffered minor injuries aboard the flight, which carried 149 people. Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Artist, Community Paint Winchester Skate Park
Andrew Schoultz, a Los Angeles-based artist with an upcoming exhibit at UNLV's Barrick Museum, painted the skate park at Winchester Cultural Center on Tuesday.
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
David Copperfield executive producer testifies during the magician's civil trial
A British tourist is suing illusionist David Copperfield saying he was injured during a trick. Chris Kenner, executive producer for illusionist David Copperfield, was on the witness stand all day Tuesday, April 17. Kenner testified that a business manager for the show talked to the man after he fell. Kenner testified that the tourist, Gavin Cox, said he was OK moments after the fall. Cox later told the crew: “Maybe I will have this looked at.” Copperfield is the next witness in line for Cox’s attorneys. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
CCSD Teacher Is a Living Organ Donor
June Monroe speaks about her kidney donation to her brother and advocacy work with the National Kidney Foundation.
Shadow Ridge High School teachers protest
Shadow Ridge High School teachers protest. Teachers are upset over many things, including the fact that the district is fighting an arbitration ruling for pay raises. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Clark County commissioners debate getting rid of Henderson, North Las Vegas constables
Clark County commissioners are debating whether to get rid of the Henderson and North Las Vegas constables after RJ's story pointing out questionable spending by the Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
1 Dead, 7 Injured After Southwest Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing
1 Dead, 7 Injured After Southwest Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing Dallas-bound Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 out of New York, which had 143 passengers and a crew of five onboard, landed in Philadelphia on Tuesday. According to NBC10, a female passenger was partially sucked out of a broken window, which was a result of the plane's engine ripping apart. It's not known if the female passenger was the one who died. Emergency personnel met the battered plane upon its landing. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the blown engine resulted in a smashed window and a damaged fuselage. Southwest Airlines The FAA said that the NTSB will lead the investigation into what happened.
Single vehicle crash kills man
A man died Tuesday morning in a single-vehicle crash in northeast Las Vegas. The crash occurred Tuesday morning on the 1900 block of Pasadena Boulevard, near Lake Mead Boulevard and Mt. Hood Street. Police had few details, but Metro's fatal detail was on the scene investigating.
Sunset Park Homicide (update 2)
LVMPD gives update about suspect in homicide at Sunset Park (Blake Apgar)
Sunset Park Homicide (update)
Update from LVMPD on Sunset Park homicide. Releasing suspect's name (Blake Apgar)
Sunset Park Homicide
Police give details about Sunset Park homicide on Sunday, April 15, 2018. (Blake Apgar)
Parents of autistic child talk about their experience waiting for care
Parents of autistic child talk about their experience waiting for care. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Donald Trump Calls Out James Comey After Book Details Emerge
Donald Trump Calls Out James Comey After Book Details Emerge The President took to Twitter to criticize the former FBI director as information emerges from Comey’s new book, ‘A Higher Loyalty’. According to 'The New York Times', Comey describes Trump in the book as “unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values.” James Comey, A Higher Loyalty, via The New York Times A Higher Loyalty hits stores on April 17.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
Endangered Devils Hole Pupfish numbers enough for concern, but not panic
Researchers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Death Valley National Park came together at Devils Hole, about 90 miles west of Las Vegas, for a biannual count of the Devils Hole Pupfish, an endangered species. Their count this time – 87. (Video by Patrick Connolly)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like