COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - KRDO NewsChannel 13 is investigating the recent safety record of the Apache AH-64 helicopter, the aircraft in which two Fort Carson soldiers died during a California training mission last weekend.
From late 2014 to late 2016, there were four Apache crashes during training missions in which both members of the two-person crew were killed.
Two of the crashes were due to equipment failures or malfunctions, one was ruled pilot error and one was an accident that happened after the craft stuck power lines.
Since 1980, 65 soldiers have died in 39 Apache crashes; 18 of the crashes occurred during training missions while the others were caused by pilot error, during combat, due to weather conditions, equipment failures or malfunctions, or undetermined reasons.
However, CW4 Jared Jones of the Utah Army National Guard has 20 years of Apache flying experience, has never been in a crash and said the helicopter doesn't need to be replaced because it has been updated several times to keep up with technology.
"It's one of the most challenging military aircraft to operate," he said. "It flies in dangerous missions, at night, at high or low altitude and in rough terrain. So it requires training that's almost as dangerous. It's the only way to gain the necessary experience for deployments."
Jones followed in the footsteps of his father, retired CW5 Ken Jones, who was the nation's most experienced Apache pilot.
"He survived a crash once," the younger Jones said.
The Apache has been the Army's main advanced attack helicopter since 1986.
The Apache AH-64 is manufactured by Boeing and was first developed by Hughes to replace the AH-1 Cobra.
The prototype Apache was first flown in 1975, selected by the Army in 1976 and was approved for full production in 1982.
More than 2,000 Apaches are currently in service.
Each Apache has a two-person crew and is equipped with night vision technology, can fire cannons, missiles and rockets, and is able to destroy tanks and other armored vehicles.
The Apache has recently been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq and also is being used or produced in seven other countries.