The New York Times reports
a classified U.S. Army study concludes insurgents in Iraq are using increasingly
sophisticated tactics and weapons to target coalition helicopters.
The newspaper quotes Army officials familiar with the study as saying the
insurgents are successfully using rocket-propelled grenades and heat-seeking
surface to air missiles.
They say the study found that all types of U.S. helicopter are equally vulnerable
to the attacks. But the study did make recommendations to help pilots evade
ground fire, including flying more night-time missions with lights off.
The study was conducted before the three most recent helicopter downings
in Iraq this month.
Army officials tell The New York Times that the senior U.S. commander
in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, ordered a comprehensive study
of all helicopter downings in Iraq to find possible weaknesses in U.S. tactics.
Nine military helicopters have been shot down or crash-landed after being
hit by suspected hostile fire in Iraq since late October.