Nine soldiers killed after two Black Hawk helicopters collide in Kentucky during training mission, Army says

Nine US service members were killed after two helicopters with the 101st Airborne Division crashed late Wednesday (local time) in southwestern Kentucky, officials said. There were no survivors.

The two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed around 10pm in Trigg County near the Tennessee border, officials at nearby Fort Campbell said early Thursday. They were taking part "in a routine training mission when the incident occurred," the base said in a statement on Facebook.

The helicopters were medical evacuation aircraft, and it's believed the crash happened while they were flying and not during a medical evacuation drill, Brig. Gen. John Lubas, deputy commander of the 101st Airborne Division, said during a Thursday morning news conference at Fort Campbell.

The aircraft went down in an open field across from a residential area, so no additional casualties or injuries were reported, he said.

The names of the deceased will not be released until all their families have been notified, Lubas said.

"We're going to do what we always do," Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said during the news conference, acknowledging the fallen soldiers' families. "We're going to wrap our arms around these families, and we're going to be there with them, not just for the days but the weeks and months and years to come."

A military investigative team from Fort Rucker in Alabama will travel to the crash site and look into the cause, Lubas said.

The crash comes less than two months after two Tennessee National Guardsmen were killed when their UH-60 Black Hawk crashed during a training flight in Alabama.

Overall, the Army has averaged five deaths per year in on-duty aviation mishaps since fiscal year 2018, according to the US Army Combat Readiness Center.

"It's a heavy day for the Army," Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said when discussing the crash Thursday during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. "Thank you for your comments and thoughts and prayers for the families of our soldiers who were killed in the crash. Our hearts go out to them."

"I am devastated to learn about the Army helicopter accident over Kentucky involving our brave 101st Airborne," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in a statement on Twitter. "My team is in contact with the Army and authorities on the ground. Please pray for our service members and their families as we learn more."