Nine soldiers were killed when two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters crashed after a medical evacuation exercise near the Kentucky border Wednesday night, military officials said.
The helicopters were flying in a “multi-ship formation” with personnel using night vision goggles, said Brigadier General John Lobus, the deputy commander of the 101st Airborne Division. There were five people in one helicopter, four in the other.
The crash, in a wooded area near the Tennesee border, remains under investigation. An aviation team from Fort Rucker in Alabama is due to arrive today to review black box data from the aircraft.
The crash is one of the deadliest military training accidents in recent years, Reuters reported.
The Army posted a news release about the crash on Twitter just after 2 a.m. No injuries were reported in residential areas.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said earlier on Twitter that fatalities were expected. Kentucky State Police are assisting Army personnel in recovery efforts.
Beshear said he will travel to Fort Campbell to “support our troops and their families after last night’s tragic incident.”
The 101st Airborne Division is a light infantry group and the Army’s only air assault division. Fort Campbell, about 60 miles northwest of Nashville, Tennessee, is on the border between Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and Clarksville, Tennessee.
Black Hawks are the Army’s utility tactical transport helicopter. They are used for air assault, general support, aeromedical evacuation, and special operations.
In February, two Tennessee National Guard pilots were killed when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed along an Alabama highway during a training exercise.
CONTRIBUTING The Nashville Tennessean
SOURCE USA TODAY Network reporting and research; Associated Press; U.S. Army