US Helicopter Strikes Against ISIS Increase Shootdown Risk

Low-Flying Apache Helicopters Could Be Easy Targets

On Sunday, the Pentagon had announced that its air war against ISIS in Iraq was now including attacks by AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, operating out of the Baghdad airport and carrying Hellfire and other missiles.

Officials are presenting the helicopters as likely to be more accurate than the warplanes flying 30,000 feet overhead, in spite of a long line of civilian casualties caused in helicopter attacks during the last Iraq war.

The big difference, rather, is that the Apaches are far more likely to be shot down by ISIS, flying at much lower altitudes more readily reached by the shoulder-fired missiles ISIS is awash in, provided to target Syrian helicopters doing the exact same thing

The eventuality of such a shootdown is likely to mean US ground troops sent on rescue missions to try to recover the downed pilots. This could end up being the pretext for launching a ground operation against ISIS, and such an incident seems only a matter of time.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.