2 Army Apache Helicopter Pilots Injured But Stable After Training Crash at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

U.S. Army AH-64E Apache helicopter pilots fly overhead
U.S. Army AH-64E Apache helicopter pilots fly overhead as the last light of the sun fades over Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., May 25, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Brian Harris)

Two Army helicopter pilots were injured after their aircraft went down on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state Monday evening during a routine training exercise, according to a service statement. 

The soldiers were taken to a hospital after their AH-64E Apache helicopter assigned to 4th Squadron, 6th Air Cavalry Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, crashed a little before 10 p.m., Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Bryen Freigo told Military.com in an email.

The incident comes after two National Guard Apache crashes in February, and an active-duty helicopter crash overseas late last year that killed five soldiers.

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"The two crew members were medically evacuated to Madigan Army Medical Center for evaluation and treatment and remain at the hospital in stable condition," Freigo said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with these families and soldiers during their recovery."

Freigo further confirmed an investigative team from the Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Novosel, Alabama, has been deployed to look into the incident. A spokesperson for the center said they could provide no further comment at this time. 

While the last active-duty Army helicopter crash claimed the lives of five Special Forces troops when it went down while conducting non-combat operations over the Mediterranean Sea in November, the Army National Guard has seen a surge in helicopter crashes over the last few months alone.

It temporarily grounded all of its helicopters after the component suffered back-to-back AH-64 Apache crashes last month. A Feb. 12 crash near Salt Lake City resulted in two Utah National Guardsmen suffering mild injuries but ultimately surviving the incident, an unfortunate rarity for aviation crashes.

The second occurred Feb. 23 in northern Mississippi and claimed the lives of pilots Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bryan Andrew Zemek, 36, and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Derek Joshua Abbott, 42.

Earlier this month, a helicopter carrying U.S. Border Patrol agents and National Guardsmen went down while flying over the U.S.-Mexico border, killing one agent and two Guardsmen. The UH-72 Lakota helicopter was part of the government's border security mission, according to a statement from Joint Task Force North.

As of April 2023, a report from the Government Accountability Office noted there had been at least 28 Army National Guardsmen killed in rotary-wing mishaps over the last decade. Between the Army and Air National Guards, there were 298 mishaps reported between fiscal 2020 and 2021 alone.

As these units are often heavily manned by part-time troops, the National Guard has issues maintaining aircraft and ensuring its pilots have enough flight time, which may be partly responsible for the high number of incidents, the report found.

No such research has been conducted since at least 2018 on similar active-duty Army aviation incidents.

Related: Soldiers Killed in Apache Helicopter Crash Are Identified by Mississippi National Guard

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