US Army National Guard Grounds All Helicopters Following Fatal Crashes

The US Army National Guard has grounded its entire helicopter fleet following two crashes that happened within a span of 11 days.

The decision was made in light of an AH-64 Apache helicopter crash on February 12 that injured two Utah Army National Guard pilots.

More than a week later, on February 23, another national guard chopper crash-landed in a rural wooded area of Mississippi, instantly killing its two experienced pilots.

According to US Army National Guard spokesman Capt. Jamie Mason, the aviation safety stand-down took effect on February 26 and will carry on indefinitely.

It will allow the force to conduct a thorough review of its safety policies and procedures with the help of aviation experts

“We are a combat force with helicopters training or on mission worldwide every day,” US Army National Guard director Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen said.

“Safety is always at the top of our minds. We will stand down to ensure all our crews are prepared as well as possible for whatever they’re asked to do.”

Increased Safety Concerns

The aviation stand-down is a major blow for the US Army National Guard, especially as it heavily relies on its rotary fleet to conduct various missions.

Some of the operations these choppers support are search and rescue, disaster relief, and medical evacuation.

The grounding also increases concerns over the basic safety of rotary-wing aircraft across all services, which have been plagued by multiple aviation mishaps in the last couple of years.

In February 2023, two Tennessee guard members were killed when their UH-60 helicopter crashed during a training flight.

Another crash involving the same type of aircraft also took the lives of three New York National Guard soldiers in 2021.

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