Army laments slow pace of helicopter replacement

Industry is slow to replace the helicopters that the Army has lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Stephen Mundt, director of Army aviation, told reporters Friday.

The Army has lost 130 helicopters in the conflicts, with enemy forces shooting down about a third of those, Mundt said. Helicopters were not only damaged by shoot-downs and other crashes, but also by the dirt, dust and rough terrain in Iraq and Afghanistan, he added.

However, it takes industry 24 months to build replacement helicopters, he lamented. The Army started asking Congress for money to replace lost aircraft two years ago, and only now replacements for early losses are starting to be delivered.

“While the military may be on a war footing, our nation’s industry is not on a war footing,” Mundt told a group of reporters at the Pentagon. He urged industry to get to a point where it is producing equipment faster.