Black Hawk in Osama raid encountered higher risks

The newer’ version UH-60 Black Hawks that raided Osama’s compound had encountered higher than expected temperatures which forced one of the aircraft to make an unplanned hard landing. The loss of a U.S. Black Hawk helicopter during the mission that killed Osama bin Laden reveals the vulnerability of such aircraft, but also reflects important lessons learned from earlier helicopter accidents.

U.S. government officials say the helicopter destroyed during the mission in Pakistan was a newer version of the two Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks that were shot down during a raid in Somalia in October 1993 that killed 18 soldiers.

In Sunday’s mission, two Black Hawk helicopters were supposed to hover over the bin Laden compound and allow Navy special operations forces to rappel to the ground.

When one of the helicopters ran into problems — including temperatures that were 17 degrees higher than expected — and had to land abruptly, two Boeing Chinook helicopters were called in to help get the U.S. troops out, said one U.S. government official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

One Chinook would have sufficed, but a second one was sent in case that helicopter also ran into trouble, said Pike.

In Pakistan, the helicopter packed with soldiers made a “controlled but hard landing” after encountering higher-than-expected temperatures at bin Laden’s compound near Islamabad, Senator Dianne Feinstein told reporters on Tuesday.

Joseph Trevithick, an analyst with the website, said “Helicopters are way more reliable than they were in the 1950s, but unfortunately, they’re still very sensitive to the environment.”

The Pentagon is still investigating the problem in the bin Laden raid, but the helicopter was not damaged by enemy fire, said one defense official, who was not authorized to speak on the record. Officials said it suffered mechanical failure.

U.S. forces quickly destroyed the Black Hawk, which was built by Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp, to avoid any of its sensitive equipment falling into enemy hands, said the defense official.

Source: Reuters

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