Training exercise on hold after soldier shoots Apache with live rounds

An Apache attack helicopter assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, 1st AD Combat Aviation Brigade also known as ‘Task Force Apocalypse’, flies over a training area Sept. 11, 2014 Fort Irwin, Ca. (US Army photo by: Sgt. Aaron R. Braddy/Released)

A US Soldier on a training exercise accidentally shot an Apache helicopter with live rounds during blank-firing training at Fort Irwin, California.

According to Army Times, the soldier -who is with the 1/17th Infantry Regiment but will not be named- was working with the 11th Armoured Cavalry Regiment during the exercise, with the incident taking place last Friday.

Army investigators are working on figuring out how the live ammo -of which about four rounds struck the helicopter- came into the situation, since live ammo is not issued to Opposing Force (OPFOR) training units.

“That’s the $100 question right now, because that unit shouldn’t have had live ammo,” Fort Irwin spokesman Ken Drylie said. “So, wherever it came from, they’re going to figure out where it came from.”

The Apache helicopter was based out of Washington and only suffered superficial damage. While images circulating of  the helicopter on the ground initially said it was shot down, the aircraft merely halted the exercise and landed, standard operating procedure for when live ammo finds its way into a training exercise.

When live rounds were heard being fired, a soldier took note and called a ceasefire. Inspection of the weapon showed that there was one live round remaining in the weapon and that the blank firing adapter had been blown off.

The Army Criminal Investigation Command found no evidence of ill-intent or foul play in regards of the incident, though the soldier’s unit will be conducting their own inquiry.

“Accidents do happen and mistakes are made; Army training is by its very nature dangerous,” Drylie said. “We take every precaution we can to make sure things don’t go wrong, and when they do, we stop and we take a hard look and try to avoid making similar mistakes in the future.”

The crew of the Apache sustained no injuries during the incident.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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