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Sat, Apr 29, 2023

Two U.S. Army Apache Helicopters Collide Near Fairbanks

Three Service-Members Lost

On Thursday, 27 April 2023, two AH-64 Apache attack helicopters assigned to the U.S. Army’s 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment went down in the vicinity of Healy, Alaska.

The helicopters, each crewed by two Army Aviators, collided while returning to Fairbanks, Alaska’s Fort Wainwright after a training flight. Two of the four servicemembers expired at the crash-site, a third succumbed during transport to a Fairbanks hospital. The fourth suffered injuries of unknown severity.

The names of the deceased have been withheld pending notification of their respective families.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Major General Brian Eifler, commanding general of the Army’s 11th Airborne Division, set forth in a statement: "This is an incredible loss for these soldiers’ families, their fellow soldiers, and for the division. Our hearts and prayers go out to their families, friends, and loved ones, and we are making the full resources of the Army available to support them."

The accident was the second suffered by Alaska-based U.S. Army helicopter units this year, and one of numerous fatal rotary-wing mishaps to befall the service in 2023.

On 05 February, two soldiers were killed in a U.S. Army AH-64D rollover accident in Talkeetna, Alaska, an historic hamlet 67-nautical-miles north of Anchorage.

On 15 February, two service-members lost their lives when a Black Hawk helicopter assigned to the Tennessee National Guard went down during a training flight just outside of Huntsville, Alabama. The accident, which occurred at approximately 15:00 EST—between the morning and evening rush-hours—saw the aircraft impact ground and catch fire along Alabama’s Highway 53. No ground injuries were reported.

In a statement, the Tennessee National Guard reported the Black Hawk had been approaching Huntsville Executive Airport (MDQ) “when the aircraft rapidly descended and impacted the ground.”

Army officials stated the pilots of the lost Black Hawk were experienced aviators, each having served more than a dozen-years in the military.

Less than two months later, nine soldiers were killed when two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters went down approximately 26-nautical-miles northeast of Fort Campbell, Kentucky during a 29 March nighttime medical evacuation drill. Notwithstanding the accident’s close proximity to a residential area, no ground injuries were reported.

Apache and Black Hawk helicopters are among the models analyzed in a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report pertaining to Army and Air National Guard accidents over the period spanning 2012 through 2021. The GAO, in addition to numerous peripheral recommendations, suggested National Guard helicopter units continuously update risk management worksheets and remove barriers to pilot training. What barriers, precisely, remains unclear.

FMI: www.army.mil

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