Popular Mechaincs: A deadly day of helicopter accidents in Afghanistan highlights the risks rotorcraft crews face in and out of combat. Is the ride worth the risks?
Helicopters are powerful, fragile machines. They are used heavily every day in Afghanistan, and they stay in the war zone when troops rotate home. Mechanics do their best to keep them in good shape, but the tempo of operations and the conditions make crashes nearly inevitable. In a place like Afghanistan, the terrain is as deadly a foe as the armed enemy.
Helicopters provide some great advantages, but they are vulnerable. I’ve written before about The danger of helicopters:
The same vulnerabilities that attack choppers face make support choppers vulnerable. But despite these problems, the advantages that helicopters provide far outweigh the danger. Air transport has cut down on enemy opportunities to bomb roadways, making our supply lines far more secure. The ability to patrol (and pursue) from the air has undoubtedly contributed to our effort to limit insurgent attacks.
But helicopters remain fragile. And their operating environment and the severity of consequence that mishaps bring make them more than a little dangerous at times.
On that post, a commenter added:
I hate to point this out, but Murdoc, you need to stress one word in this article with a little more emphasis. That word is FRAGILE.
In Afghanistan, many of the risks helicopters bring are accentuated due to the environment.