Of 130 U.S. rotorcraft lost in combat zones to non-hostile reasons between 2002 and 2008 around half were attributed to DVE (degraded visual environments), CFIT (controlled flight into terrain) and wire/obstacle strikes. These losses accounted for 49 percent of the 189 fatalities. Such compelling figures underline the importance of the efforts being undertaken to tackle DVE issues and to enhance situational awareness to reduce CFIT and strikes.
Extended rotary-wing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought the problems of “brown-out” sharply into focus. There have been numerous accidents as helicopters attempt to land when visibility has been severely impaired by billowing dust and sand. Recognizing the problem, both U.S. and UK defense officials have launched programs to find solutions.