Warplanes: April 28, 2003


The U.S. Army's AH-64 Apache gunships are sturdy, but they aren't bulletproof. When 34 Apaches were sent off on the evening of March 24th to attack the Republican Guard Medina division, hundreds, if not thousands, of Iraqis along the way took out their weapons and fired at the sound of the Apaches in the night sky. Before long, just about every weapon the Medina division had, including artillery, was being fired at the sound of the Apaches. The American gunships were taking lots of damage and soon retreated. One Apache was brought down and its two man crew captured. Of the remainder, 27 were not flyable the next day, and required considerable patching up before they could go back into action. Most of the damage was machine-gun bullets. None, obviously, enough to blow an Apache out of the air, but enough to eventually drive them off and keep them grounded for repairs for days afterward. The army is still studying exactly what happened, but the Apaches were not used in such large numbers, so far from friendly troops for the rest of the war. One "Charge of the Flight Brigade" was enough.


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