Two Boeing Apache AH-64Ds stage at the arming point at Silverbell Army Heliport. Photo by Sgt. Adrian Borunda.
The Silverbell Army Heliport in Marana could lose its Arizona National Guard Boeing Apache training unit, according to the Arizona Daily Star and Associated Press. Reports said the Guard’s chief is fighting to keep the AH-64s, as the U.S. Army plans to move most of them to active-duty units.
This is part of an Army initiative that originally proposed swapping out all of the Guard’s Apaches for Sikorsky UH-60s, the report said. However, the Army now reportedly plans to keep four Apache attack battalions — it is not yet known where those bases would be located.
According to the reports, the adjutant general of the Arizona National Guard, Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael T. McGuire, voiced concern over the loss of the 400-member the 1-285th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion and the economic impact it would have on the region. McGuire also reportedly noted that the Army’s plan involves four battalions with 18 aircraft each, but the standard fleet comprises 24. This, he reportedly felt, would be unsustainable.
The reports said another of McGuire’s warnings against shrinking Apache training was that it could adversely affect the pilot shortage. That shortage, he reportedly said, is due to retirements and departures in favor of civilian jobs. The report said he suggested, in a dissent letter to Army Chief of Staff Mark A. Milley, that the Guard actually keep six Apache battalions, instead of the four.
Last year, a panel of nine state Guard adjutant generals reportedly voted for — with two against — the four-battalion plan. One dissenter was Arizona, reports said, while the other was Pennsylvania, which hosts an Apache training center of its own.