It was only a matter of time before the combination of a suddenly alienated Pakistan and a top secret stealth helicopter crashed deep in its territory, would raise the specter of China, and specifically its military complex hinting it would be delighted to peek under the dress of said crashed chopper to fortify its expanding stealth program. ABC reports: "Pakistani officials said today they're interested in studying the remains of the U.S.'s secret stealth-modified helicopter abandoned during the Navy SEAL raid of Osama bin Laden's compound, and suggested the Chinese are as well. The U.S. has already asked the Pakistanis for the helicopter wreckage back, but one Pakistani official told ABC News the Chinese were also "very interested" in seeing the remains. Another official said, "We might let them [the Chinese] take a look." Gee, following two weeks of demonization did anyone possibly consider that Pakistan would now scramble to reallign itself with China? Surely not the Clinton stepford wife (or is that husband).
A U.S. official said he did not know if the Pakistanis had offered a peek to the Chinese, but said he would be "shocked" if the Chinese hadn't already been given access to the damaged aircraft.
The chopper, which aviation experts believe to be a highly classified modified version of a Blackhawk helicopter, clipped a wall during the operation that took down the al Qaeda leader, the White House said. The U.S. Navy SEALs that rode in on the bird attempted to destroy it after abandoning it on the ground, but a significant portion of the tail section survived the explosion. In the days after the raid, the tail section and other pieces of debris -- including a mysterious cloth-like covering that the local children found entertaining to play with -- were photographed being hauled away from the crash site by tractor.
Aviation experts said the unusual configuration of the rear rotor, the curious hub-cap like housing around it and the general shape of the bird are all clues the helicopter was highly modified to not only be quiet, but to have as small a radar signature as possible.
And yes, Pakistan already owes China:
"Because Pakistan gets access to Chinese missile technology and other advanced systems, Islamabad is always looking for ways to give China something in return," Clarke said.
The Chinese and Pakistani governments are known to have a close relationship. Last month Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif concluded a trip to Beijing, afterwards telling Pakistan's local press that China was Pakistan's "best friend."
U.S. officials have not officially disclosed any details on the helicopter, but President Obama said it was a "$60 million helicopter," in a report by The Washington Post. While the price tag on normal Blackhawks varies depending the type, none cost more than $20 million according to the latest Department of Defense procurement report.
The Chinese, who are masters at reverse engineering, will likely need just one peek:
If the Chinese are allowed to see the wreckage, it may not be the first time the Chinese military was given an opportunity to benefit technologically from America's misfortune. In 1999 an American stealth F-117 Nighthawk bomber was shot down in Serbia, the wreckage of which was reportedly passed along to the Chinese.
More than a decade later, in January of this year, China's first stealth fighter, the J-20, took a test flight that caught international attention and sparked a debate over whether China had developed the stealth-capabilities based on what they learned from the downed Nighthawk. Balkan military officials told The Associated Press the Chinese likely based their designs on the American plane, but Chinese officials denied the allegation in their state-run newspaper, The Global Times.
Look for this to be a talking point during upcoming teleprompter conferences, with the variable being whether the US pushes Pakistan hard on this, and thus alienates it further into China's camp, or moderates the recently aggressive tone somewhat.