The present operation in Laos has seen the most intensive use ever, of helicopters in combat.
The present operation in Laos has seen the most intensive use ever, of helicopters in combat. But the cost in machine and man has been high. However, a helicopter is reported lost only if it is irretrievable - anything that can be brought back or salvaged may be rebuilt to fight another day. In this NBC report the salvage and repair activity is shown in three locations. First there is the front line fixing base at Khe San. If the job is too big to be handled there, then the crippled machine is skylifted back to Quang Tri where more facilities are available. For the worst cases of damage, helicopters are flown back to the United States where, at the Army Helicopter Repair Facility at Corpus Christi, Texas, they are rebuilt and shipped back into combat. It's far cheaper than sending a new replacement - in fact the cost of repair no matter how bad the damage, is only about a quarter of that for a new one. Latest figures from the Laos war scene bring the number of American helicopters destroyed to 62, all but 12 of them were brought down inside Laos. But the overall picture of helicopter damage in South East Asia is best illustrated by the fact that about 45 helicopters a month are flown back to the United States for repair and, in this fiscal year, the total will be 540 - the most ever.