When U.S. troops carried out a mission which killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May, one of the stealth helicopters used in the raid crashed. U.S. officials now believe that Pakistan has allowed Chinese engineers to view the top secret aircraft. The Washington Post reports:
During the raid, one of two modified Black Hawk helicopters, thought to employ unknown stealth capability, malfunctioned and crashed, forcing the commandos to abandon it.
“The U.S. now has information that Pakistan, particularly the ISI, gave access to the Chinese military to the downed helicopter in Abbottabad,” the paper quoted a person “in intelligence circles” as saying on its Web site.
The ISI, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, is Pakistan’s top spy agency.
The report said Pakistan, which enjoys a close relationship with China, allowed Chinese intelligence officials to take pictures of the crashed aircraft as well as samples of its special “skin,” which allowed the helicopter to evade Pakistani radar.
One U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that there was reason to believe that Pakistan had let the Chinese inspect the aircraft. But the official could not confirm whether it had happened.
American spy agencies have concluded that it is likely that Chinese engineers — at the invitation of Pakistani intelligence operatives — took detailed photographs of the severed tail of the Black Hawk helicopter equipped with classified technology designed to elude radar, the officials said. The members of the Navy Seals team who conducted the raid had tried to destroy the helicopter after it crashed at Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, but the tail section of the aircraft remained largely intact.
American officials cautioned that they did not yet have definitive proof that the Chinese were allowed to visit to Abbottabad. They said that Pakistani officials had denied that they showed the advanced helicopter technology to other foreign governments. One military official said Sunday that Pakistani officials had been directly confronted about the American intelligence.
One person with knowledge of the intelligence assessments said that the American case was based mostly on intercepted conversations in which Pakistani officials discussed inviting the Chinese to the crash site. He characterized intelligence officials as being “certain” that Chinese engineers were able to photograph the helicopter and even walk away with samples of the wreckage.
“Pakistan gave China access to secret U.S. aircraft involved in bin Laden raid, paper says,” Washington Post
“U.S. Aides Believe China Examined Stealth Copter,” New York Times