A U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopter was flying a “readiness training exercise” when it crashed at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin in California, Saturday around Dawn.
The helicopter was a part of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division based out of Fort Carson, Colorado and had been sent to the California desert for a regular training rotation. It was heavily equipped with ammunition including Hellfire missiles, rocket pods as well as a 30mm chain gun.
Lt. Col. Jason S. Brown, a spokesman for the Army at the Pentagon stated that the crash caused a casualty of two as neither the pilot nor the co-pilot survived.
“The cause is currently under investigation and next-of-kin notifications are ongoing, therefore we can provide no further details at this time,” he said.
Officials have been pointing out the reduced flight hours and it’s dire consequences for quite some time now. In November, the head of Army aviation, Maj. Gen.
William Gayler, reportedly warned Congress that his pilots were having one of the lowest flight hours in the last 30 years, the reason mainly being the years of budget cuts.
Defence Secretary Jim Mattis blamed in part the readiness of his forces and more than 16 years of continuous combat while Beijing and Moscow modernized their forces, for the degrading military advantage that the US had over Russia and China.
“For too long, we have asked our military to stoically carry a ‘success at any cost’ attitude as they work tirelessly to accomplish the mission with now inadequate and misaligned resources, simply because the Congress could not maintain regular order,” Mattis said in a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. “Aircraft will remain on the ground, their pilots not at the sharpest edge,” he added stating that the low budget is depriving the troops of vital training that could actually help their survival.
The officials have, however, confirmed that the government was in no way responsible for the unfortunate incident death of U.S. troops due to non-combat aviation crashes have only doubled in 2017 compared to that in the year before that.Saturday’s crash was the first known U.S. Military fatality of this year.