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The US Army National Guard (ANG) has temporarily grounded its rotary-wing aviation assets following two recent crashes involving AH-64D Apache attack helicopters.

The most recent crash, in Mississippi on 23 February 2024, killed ANG pilots Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bryan Andrew Zemek and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Derek Joshua Abbott during a training flight, while two ANG aircrew were injured but survived following an AH-64 crash in Utah on 12 February.

“The director of the Army National Guard has ordered an aviation safety stand-down of all Army National Guard helicopter units to review safety policies and procedures following two recent helicopter crashes,” the National Guard announced on its website on 27 February. The stand-down went into effect on 26 February.

“We are a combat force with helicopters training or on mission worldwide every day,” said Lieutenant General Jon A Jensen, director of the Army National Guard. “Safety is always at the top of our minds. We will stand down to ensure all of our crews are prepared as well as possible for whatever they’re asked to do.”

The aviation stand-down comes as the US military is also in a fleet-wide stand-down of V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft following a deadly CV-22 crash off the coast of Yakushima Island, Japan, on 29 November 2023 that killed all eight airmen aboard. It also follows an army-wide aviation stand-down in April 2023 after two deadly helicopter crashes: on 27 April 2023 the mid-air collision of two AH-64s over Alaska killed three soldiers and wounded another, while on 29 March 2023 two HH-60 Black Hawks collided, killing nine soldiers near Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

US ANG aircrew pictured in their AH-64D at Silver Bell Army Heliport, Arizona, in November 2015. ANG rotary-wing assets were stood down on 26 February 2024 pending a review of safety policies and procedures following two recent ANG Apache crashes. (Photo: ANG)