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ARLINGTON, Va. — The military is backing away from an initial claim that insurgents are using aerial improvised explosive devices to attack U.S. helicopters.

DefenseNews first reported Monday that insurgents were setting off rooftop-planted devices that leap 50 feet into the air and spray shrapnel as U.S. helicopters pass by.

In the story, Brig. Gen. Edward Sinclair, commander of the Army’s Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., said insurgents had used aerial IEDs against several U.S. helicopters, but an official later said this was not the case.

“At this time, we do not know of any incidences of insurgents employing aerial IEDs against U.S. helicopters. No aircraft have been lost to this type of device,” said a spokeswoman for the Defense Department task force working to defeat IEDs.

Multi-National Force-Iraq also has no information on reports of aerial IED attacks and would not release specific information on IED attacks due to security concerns, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Other officials spoke about aerial IEDs in general and hypothetical terms.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Army Secretary Francis Harvey called aerial IEDs an “anticipated threat.”

“To my knowledge, we have not — I don’t know if we’ve seen — we may have seen one of those. But to my knowledge, we have not seen a lot of those so-called jumping IEDs,” Harvey said.

Harvey declined to comment on how U.S. forces might combat such IEDs.

“We got systems and tactics, and I won’t certainly go into that,” he said.

DefenseNews is part of the Army Times Publishing Co. The public affairs office at Fort Rucker deferred questions about Sinclair’s statements to the Army.

An Army official said Thursday that the Army and Defense Department continually try to anticipate and IEDs or other devices an enemy might use against U.S. forces.

“Owing to the security surrounding this and our desire to not give either feedback of the effectiveness or the ineffectiveness of these devices to the enemy we don’t get into the details of the specifics of this research, but the efforts continue both here and the United States and overseas to make certain our soldiers and Marines are well protected and that we anticipate possible, future, potential threats,” the official said.


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