American Forces Press Service

Deployed Apaches Army's Top Repair Priority


 By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

 WASHINGTON -- Apache helicopters deployed in Kosovo, 
 Bosnia, Southwest Asia and Korea will receive top priority 
 repairs as the Army moves to replace parts implicated in a 
 crash in January.
 So far, Army officials have determined about 400 of 743 AH-
 64 Apache attack helicopters need the new parts, Pentagon 
 spokesman P.J. Crowley said here Nov. 9. "The hanger 
 bearing assemblies fore and aft house the drive train, 
 which passes turbine engine power to the tail rotor," he 
 explained. "A failure in the flange area will result in 
 loss of tail rotor thrust and such a failure could be 
 It will take eight to 10 months and about $13.5 million to 
 replace the assemblies, Crowley said. Crew safety is the 
 Army's first priority, he stressed. Substantial numbers of 
 the helicopters will not fly for the next three months as 
 the manufacturer accelerates the production of 
 replacements, he said.
 The Army will ensure Apaches engaged in major contingencies 
 and first-to-fight units are repaired first. "We don't 
 expect any major impact on the key operations that the Army 
 is currently involved in," Crowley said. Operations and 
 training at stateside units, however, will be affected 
 until the assemblies are replaced, he added.
 U.S. officials have notified other nations that have 
 purchased Apaches of the problem, Crowley said.
 The Army announced Nov. 5 that all its 660 AH-64A and 83 
 AH-64D models must be inspected before their next flight. 
 Army investigators had identified the bearing assembly 
 problem while looking into a January accident at Fort 
 Rucker, Ala., that destroyed an Apache and injured the two-
 man crew. 
 In a Nov. 5 news release, Army officials said stress 
 corrosion fractures resulting from a hardness heat-treat 
 process used during manufacture may cause the bearing 
 assemblies to fail. Hanger bearing assemblies produced 
 after the Army changed the manufacturing process in 1993 do 
 not have the potential for such fractures, the officials 
 There's no indication the assembly problem caused the 
 Apache crashes earlier this year in Albania that resulted 
 in the deaths of two soldiers, Crowley said.
 The Apache attack helicopter, first acquired by the Army in 
 1986, is capable of performing its mission at night and 
 under adverse weather conditions. Armed with rockets, 
 laser-guided missiles and a 30 mm cannon, the Apache can 
 deliver highly mobile and effective firepower as an 
 integral element of ground units, according to Army 
 Army Apaches played key roles in destroying Iraqi forward 
 air defenses during Operation Desert Storm. Apaches 
 deployed to Albania during NATO Operation Allied Force, but 
 were not used in combat. Apaches currently deployed in 
 Kosovo provide allied forces with reconnaissance and