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The Army Is Inspecting Its Entire Apache Helicopter Fleet For A Critical Defect
The Army has ordered aviation techs to widen their search for a broken part that can send Apache helicopter rotors catastrophically ripping loose mid-flight, according to documents obtained by Task & Purpose, a terrifying defect that has resulted in recent deadly Apache mishaps.
In April, Defense News reported the Pentagon ceased accepting deliveries of the AH-64E ‘Echo’ Apache months earlier due to a “critical” safety issue over the copter’s strap pack nut, the component that keeps the rotor blades from separating from the airframe. But a February Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) guidance goes even further by explicitly expanding new inspections from Army aircraft flown in "severe coastal" areas to include “all AH-64 aircraft, regardless of location.”
The Safety of Flight guidance, dated February 18 and framed as an addendum to earlier inspection guidelines issued on October 23, 2017, also lays out new pre- and post-flight inspection routines. But many Apache pilots believe the Army is recklessly passing on this risk to its aircrews without actually fixing the systemic problem.
“The Army is continuing to fly the fleet of AH-64s, accepting the risk, knowing the issue, and using increased inspections and distilled water rinses to mitigate the risk,” one Apache aviator, who asked for anonymity out of concern for their career, told Task & Purpose. “The pilots aren't a fan of that tactic.”
U.S. Army/Spc. Alajuwan D. McCoyThree new AH-64E Apache helicopters taxi onto the 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment Heavy Attack Reconnaissance Squadron’s flight line March 22, 2014, at the Hood Army Air Field in Fort Hood, Texas.
The threat of corrosion is a constant enemy of airframe integrity for aviators operating in coastal areas. Indeed, the failure of the strap pack nut was responsible for the in-flight rotor separation and crash of an Apache AH-64D in Galveston, Texas on December 28, 2016, killing both soldiers on board. The Pentagon’s halting of Apache Echo variants in April triggered yet another update to the guidance regarding inspections.
“The Army has issued ‘Safety of Flight’ messages requiring units to increase standard maintenance inspections of the strap packs,” AMCOM confirmed to Task & Purpose in a May 15 statement. “As part of that process, the units are also executing daily borescope inspections of the main rotor strap pack retention nuts for all Apache models.”
The new procedures for assessing the faulty component are primarily focused on increasing the frequency of inspections, according to AMCOM, a major problem facing airframes across an increasingly strained aviation fleet. They include visual borescope inspections of all airframe strap packs prior to every Apache flight, and, according to the Army aviator, “distilled water rinses of the strap pack nut after the last flight of the day.”
When taken in the context of the Pentagon’s halted Echo deliveries, AMCOM’s broad expansion of strap pack inspections implies renewed concerns over the Apache itself. Indeed, strap pack issues plagued the airframe following a deadly crash of the newly-adopted airframe in 1987; a subsequent investigation revealed several cracked rotor hub retention nuts, according to 1992 report from AMCOM predecessor Army Aviation Systems Command.
The active-duty aviator claimed that Army engineers have identified “over a dozen” cracked strap pack nuts on Apache airframes since the new inspection procedures were implemented in February, as well as dozens more strap packs that were “replaced or removed due to unsatisfactory condition or evidence of corrosion.”
AMCOM could not provide information regarding how many Apache aircraft had been designated non-mission capable as a result of the additional inspections, citing the branch’s PEO Aviation office as the primary release authority.
“These inspections, some which occur daily, look for corrosion, sealant errors and/or strap pack nut cracks,” AMCOM said. “This is an additional requirement for our soldiers and crews, but this is how we are currently working to mitigate risk and keep the fleet safe to fly.”
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.
WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.