This just in:
Army Copter Makes 'Hard Landing' in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A U.S. Army helicopter made a "hard landing" in northern Iraq on Thursday, but the military said the problem was mechanical and not the result of hostile fire.
Last week, ground fire forced a Black Hawk helicopter to make an emergency landing north of Baghdad, the military said. At least eight other U.S. helicopters have crashed or been brought down by hostile fire in Iraq this year.
On Thursday, two pilots were injured and evacuated to an American military hospital in Kirkuk, about 180 miles north of Baghdad, the military said in a statement. There was no word on the extent of the pilots' injuries.
The helicopter, an OH-58 Kiowa, is mostly used in surveillance and some light combat missions.
Why is this non-story (mechanical problems) a story? Below the fold.
From almost two years ago (link is dead to N&O story):
CHERRY POINT MARINE CORPS AIR STATION -- Earlier this month, a pair of hulking transport planes touched down and disgorged the newest additions to the Marine Corps helicopter fleet: three MH-53E Sea Dragons that had been sitting in an aircraft "boneyard" in the Arizona desert for about a decade...Restoring the helicopters, which have been out of production since 1999, is an extraordinary step; but the Marines have little choice: They're running out of big choppers...At least part of the solution to the Super Stallion shortage, Milliman said, could involve the Cherry Point depot and the 14 other rebuildable helicopters sitting in the Arizona boneyard, formally called the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center. The boneyard is a combination junkyard and storage lot for military and Coast Guard aircraft that can be brought back into U.S. service or sold to allies.
There are 4,300 aircraft there dating to 1957, and most are suitable only for parts, said Terry Vanden-Heuvel, a spokeswoman there.
ah, what great timing, because I see that Jay Price followed up on his original story very recently.
Milliman said workers in Havelock came up with a cost-effective way to replace a crucial bulkhead that had limited the helicopter's life to 6,000 hours of operation. It can now fly about 10,000 hours. No new CH-53Es have been made since 1999.
Its replacement isn't expected to go into service until 2015. All 156 of the new model, the CH-53K, wouldn't be in service until 2020.
The heavy lifting in Afghanistan and Iraq would have meant that the Marines would be parking helicopters for good by 2010, five years before the replacements start coming into service.
Chat away, I'm off to an appointment.