Warplanes: March 29, 2002


The AH-64 Apache attack helicopter was the scapegoat of the Kosovo War. Sent to an isolated airfield with no infrastructure to speak of, the 24 Apaches took far too long to get ready for combat, then were never used after two crashed in training flights. But the story is different in Afghanistan. The Apache can fly from the small captured airfields, not least because it needs less support that jet bombers do. Being based closer, refueled from forward stations that amounted to little more than "a flat spot and a fuel truck", and able to operate in the jagged mountains, the Apache was the most effective air support platform of the later phases of the war. Fitted with advanced sensors and a variety of weapons, Apaches provided the fire support that kept troops moving forward during Operation Anaconda. Jet fighters could not attack targets close to enemy troops, but Apache helicopters, being essentially a ground-maneuver system, could work directly with the troops and provide direct fire on enemy strongpoints. Seven Apaches were committed to one battle, and while none of them were shot down, four were so badly damaged they had to fly back to base for extensive repairs. There were bullet holes in 27 of the 28 rotor blades of the seven helicopters, but all kept flying. In one case, a helicopter was forced to land under enemy fire when a damaged engine leaked oil, but by using the spare oil carried by that Apache and another one, the damaged aircraft was able to take off and make it back to a refueling point.--Stephen V Cole


Article Archive

Warplanes: Current 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close