Army National Guard Grounds All Helicopters Following Crashes

Andrew Thornebrooke
By Andrew Thornebrooke
February 28, 2024US News
Army National Guard Grounds All Helicopters Following Crashes
A maintenance worker walks past an AH-64 Apache helicopter in Kearns, Utah, on March 4, 2020. (George Frey/Getty Images)

The Army National Guard is standing down all of its helicopter units following two crashes last week, one of which left two Guardsmen dead.

Two soldiers died last week in a helicopter crash in Mississippi. Another crash in Utah on Feb. 12 left two pilots, one from the Army National Guard and one from the Air Force, in the hospital.

Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said that the units affected by the stand-down would be able to operate again after reviewing safety policies and procedures.

“The separate crashes of AH-64D Apache helicopters in Utah on February 12 and Mississippi on February 23, respectively, drove the decision to ground all helicopters for safety reasons,” Gen. Ryder told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

“My understanding is that when units have completed their safety stand-down, they’ll be permitted to fly again.”

News of the stand-down comes less than a year after the Army initiated its own stand-down following the mid-air collision of two helicopters, which left three dead in Alaska. Another Army helicopter crashed in the Mediterranean in November, killing five.

Five Marines were also killed earlier this month when their helicopter crashed in California. Likewise, there were two other crashes in southern California last year, one of which left five Marines dead.

The spate of deadly training incidents is not isolated. The United States military has suffered through innumerable crashes related to training mishaps for as long as it has deployed aircraft, and it is rare for the military to make it through a single year without one such crash.

The number of fatalities stemming from such incidents does appear to be on the rise, however. Last year, at least 30 service members were killed in helicopter accidents.

Gen. Ryder said that there were no plans for a Pentagon-wide safety inquiry or stand-down and that safety issues were taken seriously by all in command.

“Safety and risk management are something that on every single day is taken seriously throughout the force,” Gen. Ryder said.

“The Secretary [of Defense] is confident in the service secretaries and chiefs and their leadership in terms of addressing safety concerns.”

It is unclear what effect the Army National Guard’s stand-down will have on overall force readiness. Still, Army National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen said that the force uses helicopters in training and operations every day.

“We are a combat force with helicopters training or on mission worldwide every day,” Gen. Jensen said in a prepared statement.

“Safety is always at the top of our minds. We will stand down to ensure all of our crews are prepared as well as possible for whatever they’re asked to do.”

From The Epoch Times

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