Two MH-60 Blackhawk helicopters of the 101st Airborne Division crashed on Wednesday night in Trigg County, Kentucky while on a training exercise. That is near Fort Cambell.
Brendalyn Carpenter-Player, the director of Fort Campbell Public Affairs, told Fox News Digital “The crewmembers were flying two HH60 Blackhawk helicopters during a routine training mission when the incident occurred. The status of the crew members are unknown at this time. The command is currently focused on caring for the servicemembers and their families.”
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear posted about the tragic crash in a Twitter post, saying, “We’ve got some tough news out of Fort Campbell, with early reports of a helicopter crash and fatalities are expected.”
We’ve got some tough news out of Fort Campbell, with early reports of a helicopter crash and fatalities are expected. @kystatepolice, @KentuckyEM and local officials are responding. We will share more information as available. Please pray for all those affected.
— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) March 30, 2023
Also posting about the incident was the 101st Airborne Division, which said, in a Twitter post, “We can confirm two aircraft from the 101st were involved in an accident last night resulting in serveral casualties. Right now the focus is on the Soldiers and their families who were involved.”
Attached to that tweet was a photo of a press release. The press release said “At approximately 10 p.m yesterday two 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) helicopters crashed in Trigg County, Kentucky. The crewmembers were flying two HH60 Blackhawk helicopters during a routine training mission when the incident occurred. The status of the crew members are unknown at this time. The command is currently focused on caring for the servicemembers and their families. More information will be released as it becomes available. The incident is under investigation.”
A resident of the area told WSMV that the two helicopters that crashed came in lower than normal and so were out of the ordinary. In his words:
“So it’s nothing out of the norm to see helicopters, we see them all the time, but tonight there were two that were coming kind of straight up over our house, headed straight northbound. I told my wife, ‘wow, those look really close tonight’ for whatever reason…about a minute later, they were coming across and there was a large explosion in the sky almost look like a firework went off. And then the entire tree line lit up.”
The cause of the crash is still unknown, as is the exact death count from the tragic incident, as the unknown status of the two crewmembers has not yet been clarified.
Military crashes have become more of a problem as of late thanks to problems within the units flying aircraft and budget issues leading to spare parts shortfalls, as Defense One reported after a pair of crashes in 2022 caused outrage in Congress. That report, discussing the issue, said:
Following a string of deadly crashes in 2018, including the free-fall of a Puerto Rico Air National Guard C-130 that was caught on video, Congress established an independent entity, the National Commission on Military Aviation Safety, to dig further. In December 2020, the commission reported that since 2013, accidents had killed 224 pilots or crew, destroyed 186 aircraft, and cost $11.6 billion.
It also reported that there was no quick fix for the various factors that had led to those crashes. “The question of the next mishap was not hard to answer at one Marine base, where a junior Marine told the Commission that his unit was reusing expendable $5 filters on aircraft. The unit, he explained, still had missions to do even if there was no money to purchase new filters,” the commission reported in 2020.
The commission also highlighted the hard-to-measure but deadly impact of late budgets. For at least 14 of the last 20 years Congress has not passed a budget on time. To keep things operating, it passes a continuing resolution, or “CR”, that doles out money at the previous year’s level. But those funds get eaten into by ever-rising personnel costs, decreasing the money available for training, operations, and maintenance. That leads to fewer flight hours and less maintenance, and a corresponding rise in the chance of a deadly accident or a parts failure—risks that do not drop quickly after the new budget arrives.
“Late funding, no matter the amount, cannot reverse the impact of months of insufficient flying hours, missing parts, and deferred maintenance. Timing is everything,” the commission found in 2020.
In its investigation of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard crash, the Air Force reported that a factor in the crash was the unit’s low morale and “culture of complacency” fed by spare-parts shortages that led “to long repair times and lower mission capable rates for their aircraft.”
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