Warplanes: April 11, 2004


U.S. Army helicopters took a beating in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not so much from enemy action, although there was a lot of battle damage, but from operating in hostile physical environments. In both Afghanistan and Iraq (especially Iraq) there was a lot of sand, very fine sand that did terrible things to helicopter engines. Iraq also had very hot conditions and in Afghanistan helicopters had to work their engines extra hard to deal with flying in thinner mountain air. It's going to cost the army nearly two billion dollars, and take until 2006, to get 900 helicopters used in Iraq and Afghanistan back into good shape. 

The Afghanistan and Iraq experience also changed how army helicopter pilots are trained. Pilots are now allowed to practice violent evasive maneuvers that were formerly banned from doing during training (because they were dangerous). Iraq showed that it was more dangerous to learn how to do these maneuvers for the first time while being shot at. Some of the more extreme evasive maneuvers can be practiced in simulators. But eventually you have to try it in an actual helicopter to attain full confidence in the newly developed skills. Pilots are also receiving more training on how to handle crash landing in water (and getting out of a helicopter that's under water.) Helicopter maintenance personnel are also being given new equipment and materials to make it easier to maintain equipment in very sandy conditions. Most pilots and support troops were debriefed after their service in Afghanistan and Iraq, and more changes to training and tactics will come about as a result of troop reports.


Article Archive

Warplanes: Current 2022 2021 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