Air Force returns Apache fleet to service after technical malfunction fears

With no anomalies found, IAF chief Tomer Bar orders 113th Squadron to resume operations following week of grounded aircraft

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

An Israeli Air Force AH-64D Apache attack helicopter flies over during an air show in Tel Aviv on April 26, 2023, as Israel marks Independence Day. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)
An Israeli Air Force AH-64D Apache attack helicopter flies over during an air show in Tel Aviv on April 26, 2023, as Israel marks Independence Day. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)

The Israeli Air Force on Thursday returned a fleet of Apache helicopters to service after they had been grounded for a week following the discovery of a technical issue during routine maintenance, the military said.

On May 31, IAF chief Tomer Bar ruled that the fleet of Boeing AH-64D Apaches — known in Israel as Seraph — would remain grounded until the choppers were checked for the issue.

The IAF did not elaborate on the issue.

Some of the aircraft were already returned to service on Monday after no anomalies were found. On Thursday, the military said the entire fleet would return to service after all the aircraft were checked for the issue.

Earlier this year during the Independence Day flyby, an Apache helicopter pulled out and landed in a kibbutz in central Israel due to a technical fault. The military stressed that the incident was not an emergency landing.

In 2017, an Apache attack helicopter on a training mission crashed on a base in southern Israel, killing the pilot and critically injuring a crew member. The entire fleet was grounded for two months before it was declared once again operational by the military.

Last month, the Air Force also grounded its entire fleet of Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion — known in Israel as the Yasur — helicopters after a “technical malfunction” arose during a training flight, the military said.

The Yasur chopper made a safe landing at an air base in central Israel following the malfunction. There were no injuries or damage during the incident.

Israel has two squadrons of Apaches, which fly out of the Ramon Air Base in the Negev desert.

The 113th Squadron operates the AH-64D choppers, known as Seraph; and the 190th Squadron operates the AH-64A model, known as Peten (Cobra).

Most Popular
read more: