Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Wednesday, May 5, 1999 Published at 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK


Two die in Apache crash

An Apache AH-64 like this one came down during training

A US Apache helicopter has crashed during a training operation in Albania, killing both crew members.

Kosovo: Special Report
These are the first Allied deaths in the seven-week air offensive against Serb forces.

The AH-64 helicopter was 70 kms (40 miles) north-east of the capital Tirana on Wednesday when it came down at 1.30am local time. The Pentagon said there were no reports to suggest it had come under attack.

Task Force Hawk spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Garrie Dornan, said they were investigating reports that some of the ammunition on board the helicopter had exploded, though he would not say whether it was before or after the crash.

Lieutenant Colonel Garrie Dornan: "We can never eliminate risk from this business"
There have been reports that the aircraft might have hit power lines.

But the crash will have no effect on the timetable for deployment of the AH-64 against Serb forces in Kosovo, the spokesman said.

Clive Myrie: "Apaches have already been on reconnaisance missions"
This is the second such crash in nine days. Last week, another helicopter gunship went down in flames - also while on a training mission in Albania. But its crewmen escaped with cuts and bruises.

News of the crash came as President Bill Clinton was visiting Nato headquarters in Brussels to discuss the bombing campaign against Serbia.

Fearsome reputation

The BBC's defence correspondent, Mark Laity, says the Apache is designed to fly very low over difficult terrain but that any technical error can lead to a crash.

The BBC's Mark Laity: "Training accidents happen everywhere. This shouldn't cause Clinton any [political] problems"
"Nobody who's involved in Apache operations or in low flying in the RAF would expect to finish a tour without losing friends," he said.

Apaches have a fearsome reputation as tank-busters following the Gulf War, when they were credited with destroying more than 500 Iraqi tanks as well as hundreds of other vehicles.

But concerns have been raised over use their use in Kosovo, because they are relatively slow and therefore vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles and small arms fire.

Two other US aircraft crashed at the weekend. On Saturday, two US warplanes operating over and around Yugoslavia went down. A US Marine Corps AV8B Harrier plane crashed in the Adriatic Sea while on a training mission. The pilot was rescued.

Hours earlier, a US F-16 fighter plane went down over western Serbia.

Nato said the crash was caused by engine failure, but Serb authorities claimed the jet was shot down.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

04 May 99 | Europe
Bulgaria allows Nato use of airspace

04 May 99 | Europe
Kosovo solution 'closer'

02 May 99 | Europe
Nato loses two planes

20 Apr 99 | Kosovo
Apache: The all-weather attacker

20 Apr 99 | Europe
Picture gallery: Adding to Nato's firepower

Internet Links

Aviation Encyclopedia: Apache AH-64

Boeing Rotorcraft - Apache AH-64


Serbian Ministry of Information

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Violence greets Clinton visit

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Bush calls for 'American internationalism'

Hurricane Lenny abates

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Russian forces pound Grozny

Senate passes US budget

Boy held after US school shooting

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

Sudan power struggle denied

Sharif: I'm innocent

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Next steps for peace

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

DiCaprio film trial begins

Memorial for bonfire dead

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

New constitution for Venezuela

Hurricane pounds Caribbean

Millennium sect heads for the hills

South African gays take centre stage

Lockerbie trial judges named