Apache Helicopter Accident: After 4 Crashes In 2 Months, Now IAF AH-64 Apache Damaged Near China Border

An Indian Air Force’s US-supplied Apache helicopter made an emergency landing in Ladakh and suffered damage, the IAF said on Thursday. The IAF added that the incident took place on Wednesday, and both the pilots were safe.

“An IAF Apache helicopter carried out a precautionary landing during an operational training sortie in Ladakh on April 3. During the landing, it sustained damage due to undulating terrain and high altitude,” the IAF said in a brief statement. Both the pilots on board are safe and have been recovered to the nearest airbase. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause,” the IAF said.

Earlier, the US Army faced heightened concerns over the safety of its Apache fleet following four crashes in two months.

The latest incident transpired on March 27 near Fort Carson, Colo., when an AH-64 Apache helicopter from the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, went down during a routine training exercise.

According to US Army officials, the two pilots on board sustained minor injuries and were promptly transported to the on-base hospital. Fortunately, they were released the same night after receiving medical attention. 

However, the crash has prompted an immediate investigation by a team from the Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Novosel, Ala. As a precautionary measure, all aviation assets at Fort Carson have been grounded until further notice.

This unfortunate event follows closely on the heels of another Apache crash just two days prior, on March 25, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. 

In that incident, an AH-64E variant of the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade crashed during a routine training exercise, resulting in injuries to the two pilots on board. Base officials confirmed that the investigation into this crash was also underway.

Another image by the IsAF of an Apache, this time with all four Hellfires sporting yellow bands

These latest incidents contribute to a series of accidents involving Army National Guard AH-64D Apaches in February. On February 23, a Mississippi National Guard Apache helicopter tragically crashed, claiming the lives of both pilots. 

Just ten days before that, on February 13, a Utah National Guard Apache went down, though both pilots survived the ordeal.

The series of incidents has prompted significant concern within the Army, leading to the grounding of all National Guard helicopter units for a safety review back in February. 

The safety of Army aviation assets remains a top priority, particularly as the AH-64 Apache has been a cornerstone of Army operations for over four decades. 

As of March 2023, the Army Acquisition Objective (AAO) was 812 helicopters, and over 700 Apaches were assigned to both active-duty units and elements of the Army National Guard, so ensuring the safety and readiness of these aircraft is paramount.

As investigations into the recent crashes continue, the Army is facing pressure to address any underlying issues and implement necessary measures to prevent further accidents. 

The Apache’s legacy stretches back to its initial delivery in 1984. Maintaining the safety and effectiveness of this vital aircraft remains imperative for military operations worldwide.