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    U.S. National Guard grounds all Apache helicopters for safety review amid death of 2 soldiers

    By Chris Benson,


    Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. National Guard said Tuesday that it has ordered an "aviation safety stand down" of all its Army National Guard helicopters for a safety review after two recent crashes that left two soldiers dead.
    A South Korean AH-64 Apache attack helicopter flies over Seungjin Fire Training Field in Pocheon in May 2023. On Monday, the U.S. Army National Guard ordered the grounding of all Apache AH-64 helicopters. File Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI

    Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, director of the Army National Guard, said Tuesday in a statement that safety "is always at the top of our minds."

    This comes after Army National Guard pilots -- Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bryan Andrew Zemek and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Derek Abbott -- died in a Friday crash when their AH-64D Apache helicopter went down during training in the northeast part of Mississippi near the small town of Booneville.

    Jensen said the aviation stand down -- which went into effect Monday -- will "ensure all of our crews are prepared as well as possible for whatever they're asked to do," although it is unclear how many helicopters the stand down will affect.

    A separate February 12 Apache helicopter crash in Utah also was a factor in the decision to ground the fleet.
    Japan Ground Self-Defense Force's AH-64D Apache Longbow seen parked on board the Japan's helicopter carrier "Izumo" during the U.S. and Japan joint military exercise "Keen Sword 23" in Nov. 2022. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI

    Nearly 45,000 Guardsmen currently are deployed abroad and on domestic missions in the United States, while the Guard supplies a substantial part of U.S. airpower overseas.

    A February 2023 Black Hawk crash in Tennessee killed two, while a month later in March the same year another crash killed nine soldiers and was one of the deadliest training incidents in the military branch's history, The Hill reported.

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