A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) AH-64 Apache attack helicopter crashed into a residential area in Kanzaki, Saga Prefecture at around 4:45 p.m on Feb. 5, Monday,
According to the local media reports citing officials, the crash set at least one home on fire and possibly killing the chopper’s two crew members.
Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera confirmed the crash and said the two crew on board were retrieved “in a state of cardiac and respiratory arrest”. But NHK reported that one of the two crew members was confirmed dead in the immediate aftermath of the crash. NHK also showed a thick plume of gray smoke rising between the rooftops of the houses in the area.
Reports added that all four residents of the home that caught fire were confirmed safe. The accident site was near a kindergarten, but the pupils are all safe, according to its operator.
The Apache helicopter involved in the crash was stationed at the JGSDF’s Metabaru Camp. The Defense Ministry said the helicopter was trying to land after the crew reported irregularities.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued an order halting flights of AH-64 helicopters until all safety issues are resolved.
The crash raised memories of a 2016 incident in which a Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) jet with six people aboard went missing in mountainous terrain. Four bodies were later recovered.
Boeing AH-64 Apache
Boeing AH-64 Apache is an American four-blade, twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a two-man crew.
According to Boeing, the AH-64 Apache “is the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter and is used by the US Army and a growing number of international defence forces.”
It features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. It is armed with a 30 mm (1.18 in) M230 chain gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft’s forward fuselage.
It has four hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons, typically carrying a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods. The AH-64 has a large amount of systems redundancy to improve combat survivability.
The U.S. Army is the primary operator of the AH-64; it has also become the primary attack helicopter of multiple nations, including Greece, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates; as well as being produced under license in the United Kingdom as the AgustaWestland Apache.
American AH-64s have served in conflicts in Panama, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Israel used the Apache in its military conflicts in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip; British and Dutch Apaches have seen deployments in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.