Video: Apache attack helicopter is finally towed away from farmer's field at Helpringham by road

The downed heilcopter in the field at Helpringham Fen on Monday.
The downed heilcopter in the field at Helpringham Fen on Monday.

A £40m Apache attack helicopter which was forced to make an unscheduled landing in a farmer's field at the weekend near Sleaford has finally been taken away by lorry.

The Army Air Corps fighting machine, which is normally armed with chain gun, missiles and rockets, encountered a hydraulic fault while on its way back from exercises on the Scottish border to its base in Suffolk when its pilots made the landing at Helpringham Fen on Saturday afternoon.

Engineers were then faced with the dilemma of repairing it out in the field or fetching it home by road, but first had to wrap it up and anchor it down as Storm Ciara battered the county on Sunday, followed by further high winds and snow the following day.

With more rain subsequently, Army engineers were forced to steadily dismantle the chopper on site with the help of a farmer and his tractor and a crane to pull it onto matting due to the soft ground and remove its rotors and one-ton radar pod.

Finally it was lifted onto the road before being put on a truck for transport on Thursday and the farmer could finally get his field back - but not before dozens of locals and aviation enthusiasts had the chance to see the helicopter up close for some photos, which was welcomed by the commander of the deep strike Attack Helicopter Battlegroup who has been keeping people updated on Twitter.

He said: "Rigging an aircraft for road move on unstable ground is not easy. It has to be stripped to fit on a specialist trailer and then winched onto mats. Getting the anchor back out again needed a Landrover.

Rigging up lifting gear to remove the rotor blades of the Apache on Tuesday. Photo: Army

Rigging up lifting gear to remove the rotor blades of the Apache on Tuesday. Photo: Army

"Getting it back from a damp farm field requires some ingenuity (and some work with a spade).

"Sometimes manual labour is the best option. They had to move the aircraft along a carefully laid track of matting as the ground was too soft for anything other than a tractor (which was on hand to help later!)"

A local farmer helped to get the Army's engineering rig across the muddy field to the helicopter. Photo: Army

A local farmer helped to get the Army's engineering rig across the muddy field to the helicopter. Photo: Army

Engineers laying matting ready to pull the helicopter out of the field.

Engineers laying matting ready to pull the helicopter out of the field.

Having to wriggle the mats under the helicopter's wheels.

Having to wriggle the mats under the helicopter's wheels.

It took a Landrover to pull the land anchor back out of the ground, which had held the Apache down during the high winds of Storm Ciara. Photo: Army

It took a Landrover to pull the land anchor back out of the ground, which had held the Apache down during the high winds of Storm Ciara. Photo: Army