IAF grounds Apache helicopters after rotor blade found cracked

Air force chief forbids attack choppers from flying until probe determines cause of damage

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli Air Force Apache helicopters, file (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Israeli Air Force Apache helicopters, file (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The Israeli Air Force grounded its fleet of Apache attack helicopters on Tuesday, after a crack was found in the posterior rotor blade of one of the aircraft earlier in the day, a military official said.

IAF chief Amir Eshel called for an investigation into the cause of the damage to the blade to the back-rotor and ordered all the air force’s helicopters to remain on the ground until that examination is complete, the senior IDF officer said.

The crack in the rotor blade was found during a routine check-up, the officer said.

“The plan is to conduct a comprehensive investigation in order to make a decision for how to proceed with the [Apache] system,” the officer said.

Israel relies on its Apache attack helicopters to provide close air support for ground troops, while other types of helicopters are used for troop movement and supply transportation.

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

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