Multiple people are feared to have died after two United States Army Black Hawk helicopters collided during a routine training exercise in Kentucky.
Crew members from the 101st Airborne Division were flying two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters when they crashed at around 10.00pm ET in Kentucky’s Trigg County.
The crew members are part of the U.S. Army’s sole air assault division nicknamed the ‘Screaming Eagles’. They are based at Fort Campbell base, situated on the state’s border with Tennessee, 60 miles north west of Nashville.
‘Two helicopters came over pretty low, and all of a sudden – as soon as they got over the house – something popped, a loud bang. And everything shut down all of a sudden,’ one local man told WKDZ Radio.
‘So we jumped in the truck and got over here, and that’s what we found – two helicopters.’
The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.
The two helicopters are believed to have crashed shortly before 10pm on Wednesday. Local media said multiple people are feared dead
WKDZ, a local news station, pictured emergency responders putting out a fire
The Fort Campbell base is situated on the state’s border with Tennessee, 60 miles north west of Nashville
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, said there was ‘tough news out of Fort Campbell’ as ‘fatalities were expected’.
He added that more information will be shared when available, and urged people to pray for those affected.
James Hughes, the jailer for Trigg County, told radio station WKDZ that he lives about a half mile away and heard what he believed to be a collision. He described hearing a ‘pop’ and ‘two booms’.
Nondice Thurman, a spokesman for Fort Campbell, confirmed the crashes happened before 10pm on Wednesday in Trigg County, near Highway 68.
The aircraft were two Blackhawk helicopters being operated by the 101st Airborne Division.
Crewmembers were flying the aircraft during a routine training mission when an ‘incident’ occurred.
The East Golden Pond Fire Department arrived at the scene to extinguish the burning flames from the helicopter debris.
A U.S. Army soldier at the scene confirmed to WKDZ Radio there were ‘multiple deaths’.
In the early hours of this morning, the 101st Airborne Division tweeted: ‘We can confirm two aircraft from the 101st were involved in an accident last night resulting in serval casualties.
‘Right now our focus is on the soldiers and their families who were involved.’
Local news station WKDZ said that the picture shows wreckage from one of the helicopters
Military personnel of the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division take off with a Black Hawk helicopter during a demonstration drill at Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase near Constanta, Romania, July 30, 2022
A Black Hawk helicopter is seen in action in Townsville, Australia, July 2016
The station reported that Trigg County Coroner, John Mark Vinson, had been called to the scene.
Officials from Fort Campbell also arrived at the scene around an hour after the crash to carry out their investigation into the incident.
It is also expected that representatives from the U.S. military’s Safety Investigation Team, from the Combat Readiness Centre, in Fort Rucker, Alabama, will arrive at Fort Campbell to investigate the crash.
The HH-60 Black Hawk helicopter
The HH-60 is a variant of the Black Hawk helicopter designed to provide support for various military operations.
Its primary purpose is to conduct recovery missions in hostile environments, disaster responses, as well as civilian search and rescue.
The U.S. Air Force says the HH-60 is a highly modified version of the Army’s original Black Hawk helicopter.
Its onboard equipment includes an in-flight refueling probe, two .50 caliber machine guns, and an 8,000 pound (3,600kg) cargo hook.
The helicopter has been used following the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005 and the 2011 tsunami in Japan.
The Air Forces says variations of the HH-60 are currently in use in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.
The HH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is estimated to cost around $10.2 million, according to Executive Flyers.
Locals told WKDZ Radio that they had heard helicopters flying over the area for the past few evenings.
Weather conditions at the time were reported to be clear with light to no wind.
‘The command is currently focused on caring for the service members and their families,’ the base said in a statement.
The HH-60 is a variant of the Black Hawk helicopter designed to provide support for various military operations, including air assaults and medical evacuations, according to the U.S. Army.
In July, a $5 million helicopter training facility, unique in the nation, was opened at the site, featuring a sea vessel flight deck used ‘to facilitate safe and realistic training for aircrews and ground operators prior to operating in a harsh over-water environment,’ the Army said.
In February this year, a UH-60 Alpha-model Black Hawk helicopter flew for the first time entirely unmanned, controlled from Fort Campbell.
The cause of Wednesday evening’s crash is currently under investigation.
The 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army was established in August 1942. It is the only air assault division of its kind.
The group is renowned for military professionalism and its ability to execute combat and contingency missions across the world.
It is also known for its mettle: ‘tomorrow’s division in today’s Army’.
The Screaming Eagles were referred to by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as the ‘tip of the spear’. Former Chief of Staff to the Army Edward C. Meyer also called the group the most potent and tactically mobile division in the U.S. army.
The division gained renown during World War II in the D-Day landings and the Battle of the Bulge.
In more recent times, the group has been involved in multiple missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has also carried out NATO advise and assist missions as well as U.S. counterterrorism operations across the world.
Military personnel are pictured outside Fort Campbell, Kentucky, July 7, 2022
Fort Campbell is the home of the Screaming Eagles, the U.S. Army’s one and only Air Assault Division
This is a developing news story. Check back for updates…
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