Nine soldiers were killed when two Army Black Hawk helicopters crashed during late-night training exercises in Kentucky, US, killing all nine soldiers onboard, military officials said Thursday, March 30.
The crash occurred at around 10 p.m. local time (11 p.m. ET).
The two 101st Airborne Division helicopters crashed during ‘a routine training mission’ using night-vision goggles over Trigg County at around 10 p.m., Fort Campbell officials said.
The helicopters were being flown using night vision goggles, Lubas said.
All nine soldiers onboard — five on one of the choppers and four on the other — were all pronounced dead at the crash scene.
‘Despite our losses, we were lucky because they were able to land in an open field across from a residential area,’ said Brig. Gen. John Lubas, deputy commander of the division known as the ‘Screaming Eagles.’
‘So thankfully there were no additional casualties or injuries’ among local residents, he said.
It was not clear why the helicopters collided given clear visibility and low wind, and neither pilot made any distress calls, he noted.
‘This is a truly tragic loss,’ Lubas said of the fallen soldiers, who were not identified pending ongoing notification of families, some of whom are not in the US.
‘Our number one priority is caring for the families and the soldiers,’ he said, sending ‘thoughts and prayers.’
The Army has a deployed an aircraft safety team from Alabama who will arrive later Thursday and initiate an investigation into the cause of the crash, Lubas said.
He said he is hopeful investigators will be able to pull data from on-board computers, noting there’s something similar to a black box on board that can shed more light on the crash.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called it ‘a tough and tragic day’ as he visited the base.
‘We’re going to do what we always do, we’re going to wrap our arms around these families, we’re going to be with them for the weeks and days to come,’ Beshear said.
‘If they’ll allow us to carry some of their grief, we’ll do that for as long as we can.’ Members of the Kentucky Senate also stood for a moment of silence Thursday morning in honor of the crash victims.
‘It’s a heavy day for the Army,’ Army Secretary Christine Wormuth also told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Photos from the scene showed a huge ball of flames as rescuers rushed to the wrecked HH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.
The Black Hawk helicopter is a critical workhorse for the Army, used heavily during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.