Nine soldiers were killed on Wednesday night in one of the deadliest training incidents in Army history following a crash involving two Black Hawk helicopters out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. This is a very heartbreaking loss for our families, our division, and Fort Campbell, Brig. Gen. John Lubas, deputy commander of the 101st Airborne Division, said during a press conference on Thursday morning.
On Wednesday night in southwest Kentucky, two Black Hawks from the 101st Airborne Division were doing routine training. The pilots were using night vision, a common military tactic, to practice flying in low visibility. No weather was hazardous, according to data from the National Weather Service. Although the two Black Hawks’ cause of destruction is uncertain, Lubas asserts that the pilots were able to bring the aircraft down in an open field some distance from a nearby neighborhood.
There was no active personnel aboard the two helicopters. The investigating team from the service is expected to arrive at the scene of the event Thursday afternoon. Since an F-16 fighter jet collided with a C-130 in 1994 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the Green Ramp tragedy has been one of the Army’s worst days outside of conflict, with the explosion of jet fuel and munitions adjacent to a squad of paratroopers killing 24 men.
Since 2018, five soldiers have perished in on-duty aircraft incidents annually on average, according to data from the Army Combat Readiness Center, which tracks training mishaps. Most of those incidents involved Black Hawks, which are produced by Lockheed Martin, a significant defense equipment manufacturer. Two Tennessee Army National Guard chief warrant officers perished in a February crash involving a Black Hawk near Huntsville, Alabama.
Lockheed was awarded a $2.3 billion contract to build at least 120 H-60M Black Hawks while the Military explores plans for its next-generation helicopter. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, pushed the Military to look into the aircraft’s safety in 2021 after a spate of Black Hawk crashes. Gillibrand requested action in a statement at the time. I request that you promptly investigate these incidents to determine whether they are part of a larger trend of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter malfunction, she said.
Congress and the media usually conduct extended inquiries into high-profile disasters, and the crash inquiry is anticipated to take many months. In 2020, a Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle catastrophically drowned, killing nine military members. Twelve persons were disciplined or fired as a result of the Navy’s investigation into the incident, which lasted for more than a year and culminated in a report of more than 800 pages.