Did China Get a Peek at the Stealth Hawk?

Well, our worries about the Pakistanis giving China access to the wreckage of the stealth helicopter used in the raid to kill Osama bin Laden may have come to fruition.

The Financial Times is reporting that Pakistan allowed Chinese engineers to take photos and samples of the tail assembly of the stealthy "Black Hawk" helicopter that was abandoned at bin Laden's compound after it suffered a hard landing during the raid.

From the FT:

"The US now has information that Pakistan, particularly the ISI, gave access to the Chinese military to the downed helicopter in Abbottabad," said one person in intelligence circles, referring to the Pakistani spy agency. The Chinese engineers were allowed to survey the wreckage and take photographs of it, as well as take samples of the special "stealth" skin that allowed the American team to enter Pakistan undetected by radar, he said.

President Barack Obama's national security council had been discussing this incident and trying to decide how to respond. A senior official said the situation “doesn't make us happy”, but that the administration had little recourse.

Islamabad is naturally in damage control mode over the report, denying that it shared the wreckage with anyone until it was returned to the U.S. nearly a month after the raid.

Here's what current and former Pakistani officials told U.S. government backed Radio Free Europe about the matter:

"The report is totally baseless and we strongly reject it," Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said in response to the "Financial Times" report.

Asad Munir, a retired brigadier-general and former ISI station chief in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, discounts the possibility that the Chinese were given access to the U.S. helicopter.

He notes that the remains of the stealth helicopter were handed over to the United States within a few days of the May 1-2 operation to kill the Al-Qaeda leader.

"There are no Chinese defense experts who are experts in helicopter technology that are present in Pakistan," Munir says.

The complete truth and how it will impact the already strained U.S.-Pakistan relationship remains to be seen. Still, you've got to wonder how much anyone was able to glean from the tail assembly. At a minimum they would have a better understanding of modern stealth coatings (more advanced than the coating found on the F-117A Nighthawk wreckage that China was rumored to have accessed in the late 1990s) and the high-tech rotor assembly that may be designed to reduce the chopper's noise signature. Show Full Article

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