Your Feb. 8 news article about the Army’s plan to replace the N.C. National Guard’s Apaches missed several key points. It’s not your fault, since the pilots you talked to would certainly rather fly the Apaches than Blackhawks. After all, combat aircraft are sexier than transports, but there are larger issues.
First, the guard got Apaches so the Army could have more Apaches, not because those aircraft made sense for guard units. After a major hurricane, which is more useful: helicopters that can kill tanks or ones that can airlift people and supplies?
Second, with the end of war in Afghanistan, the Army has more Apaches than required, but it desperately needs to replace its aging fleet of scout helicopters. Repurposing expensive Apaches as scouts while giving the guard less costly Blackhawks makes perfect sense.
Third, I’ve watched the cuts to aviation flying hours after the end of other conflicts, and I can promise you the Apache pilots will be the first to feel the pain. Even in peacetime, Blackhawks fly missions in support of others, while Apaches fly only for their own training.
My best wishes to the fine folks in the 130th, but they should take the Blackhawks and run.
Wayne K. Maynard
Maj. U.S. Army (Ret.)