|Ren Benavidez |||Oct 06, 2014 04:45 AM EDT|
(Photo : REUTERS)
The United States has now allowed the use of the Apache AH-64 attack helicopters to launch airstrikes at Islamic State (ISIL) militants in Iraq, marking the first time that the choppers were used for attacks since it arrived in the country in July.
Apaches give the U.S. airstrikes edge against its ISIS targets in Iraq, but may be at risk if faced with ground forces.
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According to a U.S. defense official, the Apache was used during four major airstrike on an ISIS group northeast of Fallujah over the weekend.
The airstrikes was launched in coordination with Air Force fighter jets, which were also part of the attack.
In a statement released by the United States Central Command, it stated that the weekend air-strikes hit "two militants mortar teams, two small ISIS units and one marge ISIS force."
The statement confirmed that the attacks were the first time the Apache helicopters were used since its deployment in July.
The air crafts were sent by the U.S. to Baghdad as a part of an additional reinforcement, where several hundred U.S. military troops were also sent to the country to strengthen security in U.S. embassy facilities.
Originally, the Apache were sent to Iraq to serve defensive purposes, but recent events showed that the the offensive nature of the attack helicopters are now also being utilized.
According to reports, restrictions in use of the helicopters for attacks have been lifted when U.S. president Barack Obama announced in September that the U.S. will start launching air strikes on its Islamic State militant targets.
Apache helicopters has the ability to fire Hellfire missiles at its target from several miles away. They can also provide air support to ground forces.
However, the attack helicopter is vulnerable to small missile fire, and during the Iraqi war, several Apache helicopters were downed by enemy fire.
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