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A small but critical defect has 'crash landed' Apache readiness, according to a top Army general
More than a year after the Army ordered the inspection of a critical safety part in every AH-64 Apache aircraft in the service's fleet, soldiers have spent the equivalent of nine months in extra man-hours retrofitting the airframe so far, a task that has "crash landed" back on combat readiness, a top Army official said on Monday.
On Monday, the head of Army Forces Command revealed that soldiers had sunk an eye-popping 6,672 man hours working their way through the 653 AH-64s in the Army's fleet with the hopes of completing the retrofit by December 2019.
As a result of the undertaking, "readiness has suffered," Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson said at the Army Aviation Association of America in Nashville, Tennessee, adding that the fleet-wide retrofit "put the enterprise in a proverbial tailspin, which crash landed on the backs of our soldiers and our units."
In February 2018, Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) guidance previously obtained by Task & Purpose expanded more rigorous inspections of each Apache's strap pack nut (the component that keeps the rotor blades from separating from the airframe) from "severe coastal" to "all AH-64 aircraft, regardless of location," suggesting an underlying mechanical issue.
A month later, the Pentagon temporarily ceased accepting deliveries of the AH-64E 'Echo' Apache from Boeing due to a "critical" safety issue over the copter's strap pack nut, as Defense News first reported in April 2018.
But part of the problem, according to one Apache aviator who spoke to Task & Purpose on the condition of anonymity, is that Boeing's solution to the strap pack issue — the so-called "mega-nut" furnished to the Army last year — has since been recalled, leaving Army personnel to rely on using legacy strap pack nuts with retention collars as a temporary solution.
"There is a total lack of faith in Boeing's commitment to keeping the aircraft safe, and while we were encouraged by [Chief of Staff Gen. Mark] Milley's decision to stop receiving AH-64s from Boeing during the strap pack fiasco, many of us felt the Army didn't go far enough," the aviator told Task & Purpose.
The Army is currently retrofitting Apaches at a rate of two battalions a month, the service previously announced, with airframes operating near coastal areas being first to receive the new mega nut, since salt water has a greater effect. But as the Apache aviator previously told Task & Purpose, the delays aren't just hurting readiness, but overall morale as well.
"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," the aviator told Task & Purpose. "The pilots aren't a fan of that tactic."
SEE ALSO: Confessions Of An Apache Pilot: What It's Like To Fly The Military's Most Heavily Armed Attack Helicopter
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Sen. Rick Scott is backing a bipartisan bill that would allow service members to essentially sue the United States government for medical malpractice if they are injured in the care of military doctors.
The measure has already passed the House and it has been introduced in the Senate, where Scott says he will sign on as a co-sponsor.
"As a U.S. Senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, taking care of our military members, veterans and their families is my top priority," the Florida Republican said in a statement.
Little girls everywhere will soon have the chance to play with a set of classic little green Army soldiers that actually reflect the presence of women in the armed forces.
U.S. military officials may have abandoned their dreams of powered armor straight out of Starship Troopers, but the futuristic components of America's first prototype combat exoskeleton could eventually end up in the arsenals of both U.S. special operations forces and conventional troops.
SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper pressed South Korea on Friday to pay more for the cost of stationing U.S. troops in the country and to maintain an intelligence-sharing pact with its other Asian ally, Japan, that Seoul is about to let lapse.
Speaking after a high-level defense policy meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyeong-doo, Esper also said the two countries must be flexible with their joint military drills to back diplomatic efforts to end North Korea's nuclear program.
But he stopped short of announcing any new reduction in military exercises that North Korea has sharply condemned.
Russia established an air base in the Syrian city where withdrawing US troops were pelted with potatoes
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia landed attack helicopters and troops at a sprawling air base in northern Syria vacated by U.S. forces, the Russian Defence Ministry's Zvezda TV channel said on Friday.
On Thursday, Zvezda said Russia had set up a helicopter base at an airport in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli, a move designed to increase Moscow's control over events on the ground there.
Qamishli is the same city where Syrian citizens pelted U.S. troops and armored vehicles with potatoes after President Donald Trump vowed to pull U.S. troops from Syria.