Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters recently conducted strikes in conjunction with other aircraft against ISIS militants. The Apaches were part of a detachment sent to Baghdad this past July. The AH-64 is a capable weapons platform, but unlike fixed-wing jets that have conducted strikes against ISIS, the Apache is more vulnerable to ISIS’ anti-air systems.
The day before the Apaches conducted their operations, an Iraqi Army Mi-35 gunship was downed by ISIS ground fire; any American helicopters operating close to the ground will face similar threats. As the debate about whether to commit U.S. ground forces to combat ISIS directly continues, the troops already in-country face the possibility of fighting to rescue a downed helicopter crew.