RQ-170 Sentinel Used In Raid That Killed Bin LadenPosted: May 19, 2011
Although this may not be news to everyone, U.S. intelligence officials are conceding that the RQ-170 Sentinel, or “Beast of Kandahar” was the ISR support aircraft used during the raid that killed Bin Laden in Abbottabad earlier this month.
The Sentinel is a stealth drone designed to evade radar detection and operate at high altitudes and it is highly likely that the CIA conducted clandestine flights over the compound for months before the assault on May 2nd in an effort to capture high-resolution video that satellites could not provide.
I say this could not be news because to many, it seems only right that in an operation that used at least two stealthy blackhawks, 24 Navy SEALs (and a dog named Cairo) such an aircraft would be used to maintain the low-observability of the entire operation. Also, the RQ-170 was leaked to have been placed in an operational capacity in Afghanistan back in August 2010, which possibly shielded the aircraft from further media scrutiny. For these reasons, speculation has been rife for weeks.
The operation in Abbottabad involved another US aircraft with stealth features and the Black Hawk helicopter equipped with special cladding to dampen noise and evade detection during the 90 minute flight from a base in Afghanistan. The helicopter was intentionally destroyed by US forces – leaving only a tail section intact – after a crash landing at the outset of the raid.
The CIA’s repeated secret incursions into Pakistan‘s airspace underscore the level of distrust between the United States and a country often described as a key counterterrorism ally, and one that has received billions of dollars in US aid. An operation of this kind and for this duration required the jamming of Pakistani radars and beamed footage of the compound and over multiple periods.
This development only further paints a picture of a raid that was indeed carried out without Pakistani knowledge and through weeks of collated Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance one that would not have been possible without the role fulfilled by the Sentinel.
Image courtesy of DefenceTech.org