The US Army has announced that it will ground its entire fleet of helicopters until further notice, following a series of fatal crashes in recent months. The decision affects more than 2,000 aircraft, including Apache, Black Hawk and Chinook platforms.
The Army said that it will conduct a comprehensive safety review of all its helicopters, focusing on maintenance, training and operational procedures. The review is expected to take several weeks and will involve input from experts and external agencies.
The grounding comes after four helicopter accidents in the past six months, which claimed the lives of 14 soldiers and injured several others. The most recent crash occurred on April 20, when an Apache helicopter went down near Fort Campbell, Kentucky, killing two pilots.
The Army has not disclosed the causes of the crashes, but some reports have suggested that they may be related to mechanical failures, human error or weather conditions. The Army has also faced criticism for its ageing helicopter fleet, which dates back to the 1980s and 1990s.
The Army has been working to modernize its helicopters, but the process has been slow and costly, with programmes delayed by technical and budgetary issues. The Army also wants to upgrade its Apache and Black Hawk helicopters with new engines and avionics, but the funding for these projects is uncertain.
The grounding of the helicopter fleet will have a significant impact on the Army’s readiness and capabilities, especially in combat zones like Iraq and Syria. The helicopters provide vital support for ground troops, such as air assault, medical evacuation, reconnaissance and fire support.
The Army said that it will prioritize the safety of its soldiers and will resume flight operations only when it is confident that its helicopters are safe and reliable.