Apache Down II

Gary Hunt,
Outpost of Freedom
May 6, 1999

The first wire reports of the second Apache (AH-64A) helicopter to go down in the TASK FORCE HAWK operation in Tirana, Albania, came in before 11:15 p.m. (ET) {May 5, 7:30 a.m., Yugoslavia} on May 4, 1999. The report indicated that search and rescue missions were underway and that the crash occurred at 1:30 a.m., May 5 {Yugoslavia}. The location was given as "within Albania’s borders, but . . . near Macedonia and Yugoslavia."

The wire carried a story out of Serbia at 5:30 a.m. {Yugoslavia}, May 5th, in which a report of two local fishermen observed smoke coming from what they believed to be a NATO aircraft. They said that the aircraft fired its missiles, apparently to unload them, in the direction of Macedonia. The aircraft, trailing smoke, then headed toward Albania, the report said.

 A time was not given for this observation. The accompanying report from this side of the border indicated that the two pilots’ location was not known.

A 7:30 a.m. {Yugoslavia} report has the pilot killed and the second crewmember missing. Then, by 9:00 a.m. {Yugoslavia}, the wires reported both crewmembers killed in the crash.

By 4:30 p.m. {Yugoslavia}, a report stated that other pilots reported a "fireball" as the Apache went down.

In various reports, the possibility that the helicopter hit some power lines was occasioned. Also, there are assertions that "it was note a mechanical failure."

Perhaps, in an effort to relieve the Military-Industrial Complex of anxiety, the Army has indicated to the supplier of the Apache, that there was no mechanical failure and that the helicopter may have hit an ‘anti-helicopter’ device. This could include poles erected to strike the rotor blades of the helicopter or wires strung between trees or poles. The Apache, however, was designed to cope with these traps.

So, what can we conclude from the available information? It would seem that the most probable scenario, the one that best fits the compilation of reports, especially knowing that NATO/USG prefers to lead us top believe what is most palatable, is that the smoke from the press releases. Once blown away, leaves the probability that the Apache received enemy fire. Whether that fire was from the Albanian or Yugoslavian side of the border is inconsequential. Let’s look at the alternatives:

Suppose the helicopter struck an anti-helicopter device, or power lines, as was suggested at one point – and, is still adhered to in dealing with the manufacturer. At best, the flight altitude would have to be no more than 150 feet above the ground. This falls well within he capabilities, and desirable flight performance of the aircraft. The difficult part is accepting the fact that, in the less than three seconds required to fall to the ground from that height (unlike airplanes, helicopters have no glide ratio once the rotors stop spinning), it is almost inconceivable that the aircraft could have erupted into a fireball and been viewed by the other pilots. Severe damage would have been necessary to cause such damage, and the means described here should only remove the ability of the aircraft to stay airborne. Remember, this 17,000-pound aircraft is nearly invincible against small arms fire, is armored and much of the sixteen million dollar cost is associated with providing crew safety and protection.

So, we have nearly ruled out the possibility of an incidental accident. But, if we rely on the report from the other pilots, to the extent that this information has been provided, we can probably assume that the aircraft had both altitude and damage prior to the ‘fireball’. Ironically, this is not inconsistent with the report that came out of Yugoslavia shortly after the initial reports of helicopter down. The fire, according to the reports, only caused explosion of the 30mm rounds. This would leave both the 2.75-inch rockets, which do not arm until fired, and the hellfire missiles, which also have sophisticated arming system, undamaged. I don’t suppose that the Army, or NATO, will give us an inventory of the ordinance remaining on the helicopter after the crash. This would surely assist in determining whether the account from Serbia might be of this very aircraft.

Now, the final element in this probable scenario: Why would the government not be open about what had occurred? This brings us into an area know as ‘motive’. Is it possible that the government will do anything it can to cause us to continue the belief that we are invincible, in this war? Would the government prefer that we don’t even think about ‘body bags’? So long as the can record these deaths as ‘accidental’, non-combat deaths, the realities of war are as distant as they have been since the first bombs dropped on Serbia, over forty days ago.

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