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 globalsecurity.org, 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 .

ad-high_impact_4
News
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive Remembrance Wall
(Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive
Vitalent hosts a blood drive at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shootings. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October sunrise remembrance ceremony in Las Vegas
Myanda Smith, sister of Las Vegas shooting victim Neysa Tonks, speaks at the sunrise remembrance ceremony at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‪Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to crowd at Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬
‪Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to the crowd at the Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father of Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim talks about college scholarship in his daughter's memory
Chris Davis, father of a Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim, Neysa Tonks, talks about a college scholarship in his daughter's memory to assist the children of those who died in the shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Oct. 1 survivor Malinda Baldridge talks about life after the shooting
Malinda Baldridge of Reno attended the Route 91 Harvest festival with her daughter, Breanna, 17, and was shot twice in the leg when the gunman fired on the crowd.
Route 91 survivor talks about lack of progress in gun legislation
Heather Gooze, a Route 91 survivor, talks about lack of progress in gun legislation since the Oct 1. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas/Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Museum opening "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials"
The Clark County Museum is opening an exhibit "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials" of items left to honor the victims killed in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
The world's longest racetrack could be coming to Pahrump
Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Pahrump might be the first racetrack in the world longer than 16 miles long once the expansion is complete. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Gold Point townsperson talks about why he choose to live in a ghost town
Gold Point townsperson Walt Kremin talks about the ghost town in Nevada he calls home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Search for missing 3-year-old boy at Sunset Park
Las Vegas police and Red Rock Search and Rescue team search for a missing child at Sunset Park in southeast Las Vegas on Sunday, Sept.2, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai speaks at Las Vegas tech conference
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school in Pakistan after advocating for girls' education, spoke at VMworld 2018 at Mandalay Bay. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like