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Wednesday, June 1, 2011     GET REAL

Iranian military crashes 37-year-old Cobra copter

NICOSIA — The Iranian military has lost another U.S.-origin helicopter.


Iran, under U.S. sanctions which deny it access to American spare parts, has suffered several aviation disasters over the past decade because of its aging fleet and lack of maintenance.

The Iranian Air Force reported the crash of an AH-1J Cobra helicopter. The Air Force said the Cobra crashed in central Iran on May 30 during a routine mission and its two-member crew was killed, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The Cobra-209 helicopter belonged to the Shahid Vatanpour training base," a military statement said.

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Officials said the crash stemmed from technical faults in the Cobra. They said the Air Force has launched an investigation.

Iran has been operating an aging U.S.-origin aviation command. The Air Force acquired the fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft in the 1970s.

Iranian sources attributed the crashes of the U.S. helicopters to lack of maintenance. In 1974, Teheran ordered 100 Cobras from the United States, about half of them believed to be still in service.

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