Logistics: Cannibal Apaches

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March 10,2008: Cuts in defense spending in Britain led to low stockpiles of spare parts for many major weapons systems. As a result, the hard working British AH-64 helicopter gunships in Afghanistan are suffering a shortage of spare parts. In reaction to this, 251 parts were removed from Britain's AH-64 fleet, over the last twelve months, in order to keep the eight in Afghanistan in working order. Some British officers would like to get more AH-64s to Afghanistan, but the spare parts situation makes that inadvisable (as it would groups a large number of other AH-64s that were cannibalized.)

Britain has been cutting back on defense spending since the end of the Cold War in 1991, as have most other European countries. But operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have put more helicopters into the air, more often, and in very demanding (hot and dusty) conditions. This has used up spare parts stockpiles, causing many helicopters to be sidelined and often cannibalized for parts, to keep other aircraft in the air. The British military had kept details of this quiet, but an opposition member of parliament got the information out of the Ministry of Defence, in an attempt to force the government to buy more spares and technical services.

 


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