Written by Tasia Jones, CNN Cori Goldsmith, CNN
Severe damage to the KI-4M helicopter caused by a terrorist attack in Somalia is being fixed at the Ålesund Naval Base in Norway, with the help of the latest in military technology — a titanium heel.
On June 11, 2011, a Somali group called Al-Shabaab attacked the helicopter, located near the coastal town of Qandala, Somalia. The militants severely damaged the aircraft’s landing gear and belly gun on the US Marine Corps Osprey, firing at the Sikorsky AH-1 Cobra helicopter that was launching the Hellfire missile.
One of the Osprey’s two turboprop engines was also hit, causing the aircraft to be disconnected from the 40-ton, multi-rotor helicopter. The Osprey was disabled and abandoned, leaving the helicopters without propulsion and cut off from nearby airfields.
The helicopter made a fuel run but was unable to land because of the explosion. That’s when it happened.
A NASA photo from the time shows a series of blasts that appear to be coming from the aluminum landing gear. Thirteen people were killed in the attack.
The ordeal was costly: As of November 2017, only 12 of the 18 structures at Qandala — including the 28-acre naval base — had been repaired.
Speaking about the unique repair, Rear Adm. Elissa Cadish, who oversees the Pentagon’s readiness efforts in Africa, says that to date “there have been approximately 150 Navy and Marine Corps rescue operations over 15 years on the African continent.”
“We’ve deployed helicopters from Ålesund at least three times,” she adds.
“There is no other ‘standard’ for us to fly here in Ålesund. This is a unique opportunity to refit a land attack mission helicopter with a unique high-strength structural design that will allow the helicopter to fly again.”
Cadish’s office has started planning the future sustainability of the platform.