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U.S. Army grounds aviation units for 24 hours after deadly helicopter collisions

The U.S. Army grounded its aviation units for 24 hours after two AH-64 Apache helicopters collided Thursday in Alaska, killing three soldiers. File Photo by Charles Rosemond/U.S. Army
The U.S. Army grounded its aviation units for 24 hours after two AH-64 Apache helicopters collided Thursday in Alaska, killing three soldiers. File Photo by Charles Rosemond/U.S. Army

April 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army has grounded its airborne units for 24 hours after a pair of deadly helicopter collisions killed 12 soldiers in recent weeks.

Army Chief of Staff James McConville made the move in an order issued Friday. It comes in the wake of an Apache helicopter collision Thursday in Alaska that claimed the lives of three soldiers and wounded another.

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In March, a mid-air collision between two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters killed nine soldiers.

"The safety of our aviators is our top priority and this stand-down is an important step to make certain we are doing everything possible to prevent accidents and protect our personnel," McConville in his order.

"During this stand down, we will focus on safety and training protocols to ensure our pilots and crews have the knowledge, training and awareness to safely complete their assigned mission," McConville continued.

McConville expressed condolences for the deceased soldiers. "We are deeply saddened by those we have lost," he said. "It is their loss that makes it all the more important we review our safety procedures and training protocols."

Army aviation units will resume normal operations following the stand-down after any corrective actions are taken on issues identified in safety and training.

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In this week's incident, two Apache helicopters, which were from the 25th Aviation Regiment's 1st Attack Battalion, were returning from a training mission near Fort Wainwright when they collided. Two soldiers died at the scene and a third died en route to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

March's Blackhawk collision occurred while the two helicopters were on a training mission near Fort Cambell in Kentucky.

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