Apache Choppers Sidelined Once Again Following Deadly Crash in Israel

© AP Photo / Tsafrir AbayovApache helicopter
Apache helicopter - Sputnik International
Following reports that an Israeli Apache helicopter crashed Monday night, officials say preliminary findings indicate no link between the incident and the fleet’s recent grounding.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post Tuesday, a senior official with the investigation stated "we can say for certain that it is not related to the issue of what happened in June," when a technician found a crack in an Apache helicopter’s tail rotor blade. 

NATO forces in AH-64 Apache helicopters take part in Exercise Trident Juncture 2015, NATO's largest joint and combined military exercise in more than a decade, at the San Gregorio training grounds outside Zaragoza, Spain, November 4, 2015 - Sputnik International
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Though the June revelation ultimately grounded the nation’s entire Apache stock, Monday’s crash was a result of a malfunction in the steering system of the tail rotor blades, the official confirmed.

"I can say that, from what we have seen at the crash site, if it was related to the rear rotor blades, then they would not be intact like they were," he insisted to the Post.

The AH-64 Apache pilots, from the Magic Touch Squadron, were returning from a training exercise when they contacted the control tower at Ramon Airbase about the technical glitch, according to IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis. 

At about 9 p.m. local time, just minutes after reaching out to the base’s tower, the chopper was preparing to land but suddenly came crashing down. The pilot died in the accident; the co-pilot was critically injured and evacuated to Saroka Medical Center in Beersheba, Israel, to undergo surgery.

An AH-64D Apache attack helicopter flies in front of a wall of fire during the South Carolina National Guard Air and Ground Expo at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina, U.S. on May 6, 2017 - Sputnik International
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However, while no concrete link has been established to the June incident, Manelis indicated to the Post that the training exercise was part of the choppers’ slow return to service since the initial setback.

This is the second occurrence within a week of technical failures forcing pilots of the troubled Apache helicopter to make emergency landings, the Times of Israel reported.

With the choppers grounded until further notice, representatives from Boeing, the chopper’s manufacturer, are expected to join the inspection.

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