Two years ago, pictures leaked of a previously unknown, bat-winged drone operating out of Afghanistan’s Kandahar airport. Speculation spiked about the mission of the mysterious aircraft, instantly nicknamed “the Beast of Kandahar” by secret plane-spotter extraordinaire Bill Sweetman.
The drone’s smooth, curved shape meant it was stealthy — hard for radars to spot. But the Taliban didn’t have any radars. So what was the Beast doing?
Some suggested that it might be snooping on Iran’s nuclear program. Others thought the drone (officially known as the RQ-170 Sentinel) might be the test bed for a new, microwave weapon to fry enemy electronics or a next-gen jammer to screw with enemy communications. The drone was even spotted over Korea; maybe it was watching missile launches while avoiding the prying eyes of our foes in Pyongyang?
Turns out, the Beast wasn’t dodging enemy radars, at least not lately. It was avoiding detection by our putative allies in Pakistan, as it gathered intelligence about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts.
As more details emerge about the raid that finally bagged Osama Bin Laden, one thing is perfectly clear- the U.S. went all out to ensure the success of the operation- even if it meant revealing previously hidden strategic assets.
When one the helicopters experienced a failure that required it to be destroyed to prevent it from falling into unfriendly hands, the debris revealed the existence of a previously undisclosed variant of the Blackhawk dubbed the “silenthawk.” Further conjecture points to stealth version of the H-47 taking part as well.
The latest revelation centers on the “Beast of Kandahar” that was sighted numerous times in the region over the last several years. Officially known as the RQ-170 Sentinel, the drone was used to stealthily gather intelligence on the lair of the Bin Laden and evade detection by Pakistani forces which may have tipped off the Taliban leader.
While ultimate credit belongs to the Navy Seal team which performed the raid, American technology made it possible.