In Iraq, it's not uncommon for Americans to fly from the Green Zone in Baghdad to the military headquarters at Camp Victory, just a few miles away. That's the danger handmade bombs along the road represent.So insurgents are altering their strikes, "attacking U.S. helicopters in Iraq with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that leap into the air and detonate when an aircraft passes nearby," writes Defense News' Greg Grant, who just returned from Iraq.
Insurgents, who place these aerial IEDs along known flight paths, trigger them when American helicopters come along at the typical altitude of just above the rooftops. The devices shoot 50 feet into the air, and a proximity fuze touches off a warhead that sprays metal fragments, said Brig. Gen. Edward Sinclair, commander of the Armys Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, Ala.The bomb-builders may be obtaining radio-guided proximity fuzes from old Iraqi anti-aircraft and artillery shells and mortar rounds.Sinclair said these aerial IEDs have been used against multiple U.S. helicopters. He declined to say whether such IEDs had damaged any aircraft.The new weapon is one way insurgents are taking on Army aircraft, which come under fire between 15 and 20 times a month, Sinclair said. Other methods include small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and advanced shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.The enemy is adaptive, Sinclair said. They make changes in the way they fight; they respond to new flying tactics.The AP is reporting that "a U.S. military helicopter crashed north of the Iraqi capital Monday - the third American chopper to go down in 10 days - killing the two crew members. A resident said he saw the smoke trail of a missile before the aircraft plunged to the ground."