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Army Guard grounds helicopter fleet after two Apache crashes in two weeks

The Army National Guard grounded all 1,300 of its helicopters in a safety stand down following two crashes this month, one of which was fatal.
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The Army National Guard has grounded its fleet of more than 1,300 helicopters after a series of crashes in February. Photo by Capt. Travis Mueller

The Army National Guard announced a safety stand down for its helicopter fleet after two crashes within two weeks earlier this month.

Two pilots died when a Mississippi National Guard AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed on Feb. 23 during a routine training mission. That crash came after a Feb. 12 crash of a Utah National Guard Apache. There were no fatalities in the Utah crash.

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According to a 2023 GAO report, the Army Guard flies over 1,300 helicopters with fleets of 96 Apaches, 891 UH- and HH-60 Black Hawks, 156 CH-47 Chinooks, and 192 UH-72 Lakotas.

The National Guard’s stand down was first reported by Army Times.

“We are a combat force with helicopters training or on mission worldwide every day,” said the director of the Army National Guard Lt. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, who ordered the stand down. “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.”

Units have been told to use the downtime to “review safety policies and procedures”.

The Guard’s aviation units fly virtually all of the same missions as conventional active duty Army aviation, including air assault, air movement, aeromedical evacuation, and inter- and intra-theater transportation.

In 2023, the Army held a branch-wide aviation stand down after a series of crashes, and the V-22 Osprey is currently grounded across the Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy after three fatal crashes in three months.

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