The National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, was host to one of the most bizarre incidents to have taken place this year, involving Army Aviation. According to U.S. Army W.T.F! Moments, and corroborated by a number of eyewitnesses, an AH-64D Longbow Apache was fired at with live ammunition during a training exercise, necessitating a landing in the desert and spurring an investigation into just what happened on the morning of Friday May 13th.
From what the USAWTFM page has gathered thus far, the Apache was deployed to the NTC as part of a unit rotation, and was squaring off against OPFOR (opposing force) guerrillas, armed with rifles capped with blank firing adapters (BFAs) and equipped with the multiple integrated laser engagement system (MILES). The magazines of small arms assigned to OPFOR units are never loaded with live ammunition, but instead, blank rounds to simulate gunfire; the BFAs ensure that the rifle rechambers subequent rounds in the absence of bullets. MILES, in conjunction with blank ammunition, allows for hyper-realistic simulations of combat, with the blank rounds simulating gunfire and MILES scoring hits or kills without anybody actually getting hit or killed.
This particular soldier, however, had apparently locked a magazine loaded with live rounds into his rifle, and proceeded to fire at the approaching Apache during an exercise. When it was found that his BFA was mangled quickly and blown off, the Eagle Team in charge of aviation units during evolutions at the NTC ordered the helo to land and to check for damage. An inspection found that five to seven rounds had impacted the helo, though none significantly damaging or impairing the Apache in any way. We’re currently unsure whether or not this soldier had loaded his own ammunition, or was issued pre-loaded magazines, which might not have been fully cleared after their previous use. More on this story as it becomes available.