Half of Army gunships are grounded
By Robert Watts, Whitehall Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:44am GMT
Half of the Apache gunships supporting British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq were grounded this summer, new Government figures reveal.
A third of the Chinook transport helicopters on operations were also withdrawn from service as they were found not to be "fit for purpose". The heavy toll that the conflicts have had on Britain's air power is revealed in a survey of the state of Army helicopters, conducted by the Ministry of Defence in August. Ministers do not make public exactly how many helicopters are deployed in war zones. However, the Government study reveals the percentage of Army helicopters at the time considered "fit for purpose" - defined as "available, reliable, airworthy and capable of carrying out their planned missions". Armed with eight Hellfire missiles and 76 Flechette rockets, each Apache gunship provides vital support to British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Britain has a fleet of more than 60 of the £30 million attack helicopters.
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