Secretary of Defense Ash Carter confirmed Apache helicopters were deployed against Islamic State in Iraq.
The helicopter was used in a strike against an ISIS position in support of Iraqi Security Forces that are positioning themselves for an eventual push on the city of Mosul. A contingent of Apaches was deployed to Iraq in April in an effort to bolster ongoing offensive operations against ISIS.
“Well, it is a capability that has been prepared and on offer to the Iraqi security forces for some time, going back to Ramadi. And — and Prime Minister Abadi, of course, has the final say on that end and other things,” said Carter during a press gaggle Monday en route to Belgium.
The Apache joins a diverse array of U.S. weapons platforms used to fight ISIS. In addition to airborne weapons such as drones, fighter aircraft and bombers, the U.S. also has artillery pieces and the HIMARS rocket system in the area of operations.
“This is the first time that it’s been called into action, and effectively. But the importance of it is — the operational importance is the envelopment of Mosul from the south, that’s what it was assisting or enabling,” said Carter.
Carter said the Apache was operating behind forward-deployed friendly soldiers at the time of the attack, but noted these kinds of operations always involve a certain amount of risk.
The AH-64 Apache is a fast, maneuverable attack helicopter that can perform a number of support roles. A variety of weapons are available to the Apache, including Hellfire missiles, 70 mm rockets and its signature 30 mm automatic cannon that carries high-explosive rounds. Its diverse arsenal makes the Apache particularly adept at taking out everything from tanks to radical Jihadis.
As the U.S.-backed coalition continues to prepare to move against ISIS in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, it is possible the Apache will see more work.
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