July 28, 2005

US chopper wrecked by hard landing in Afghanistan

KABUL (Reuters) - A U.S. military helicopter was destroyed
by a hard landing during an operation to hunt down insurgents
in Afghanistan, but there were no casualties, the military said
on Thursday.

The twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook made the hard landing on
Wednesday due to "brown-out conditions" as the crew attempted
to land forces near the Pakistani border southwest of the town
of Spin Boldak, a military statement said.

"Hostile fire was not involved," it said. "A fire, which is
believed to have started from the hard landing, destroyed the
aircraft. No one was injured."

Brown-out conditions can refer to a situation in which dust
and debris are kicked up by a helicopter's rotors, obscuring

U.S.-led forces have lost at least a dozen helicopters in
Afghanistan due to technical problems, operating conditions or
hostile fire since invading the country to overthrow the
fundamentalist Taliban government in late 2001.

In April, a CH-47 Chinook crashed during a dust storm in
Ghazni province, killing 15 American servicemen and three
civilian contractors aboard.

Last month an MH-47 helicopter, a special forces version of
the CH-47, was shot down during an anti-guerrilla mission in
the northeastern Kunar province, killing all 16 troops on

The United States leads a mostly American force of about
20,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan chasing Taliban and allied
militants. Thirty-seven U.S. troops have been killed in action
this year, the bloodiest so far for U.S. forces in the country.