Support our mission
 

A U.S. military helicopter has gone down in northern Iraq, killing all 14 crewmembers and passengers aboard, officials said Wednesday.

The crash happened in the early morning hours on Wednesday. A pair of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were on a night operation when one of the aircraft crashed, a military statement read.

“Initial indications are that the aircraft experienced a mechanical malfunction,” a press release said. “There were no indications of hostile fire.”

All 14 soldiers were assigned to Task Force Lightning, the U.S. command in northern Iraq that includes several units.

No unit information was being released as of Wednesday afternoon, nor details such as where the crash took place or what the night mission entailed. An investigation into the incident is under way, officials said.

In recent days, the task force has been involved in several operations targeting al-Qaida in Iraq fighters who had fled cities such as Baqouba after U.S. offensives earlier this summer.

The dead include four crewmembers and 10 passengers, according to military officials.

Since the war in Iraq began, at least 60 U.S. military helicopters have gone down in the country, with roughly half shot down by enemy fire. A spate of crashes and shootings in January and February led to a change in some flight routes and tactics.

On Aug. 14, a CH-47 Chinook went down in Anbar province, killing five. The crash occurred during a post-maintenance-check flight, officials said.

The deadliest helicopter crash during the war has been the January 2005 crash of a Marine Corps CH-53 Super Stallion that went down in a sandstorm near the Jordanian border, killing all 31 servicemembers aboard.

In part because of the danger of roadside bombs, the U.S. military has relied heavily on helicopter transport in Iraq. According to military figures released earlier this year, in 2005, U.S. Army aircraft flew 240,000 hours. In 2006 they flew 334,000 hours, while this year they are expected to fly 400,000.

Since 2004, U.S. helicopters have been fired on about 100 times a month, mostly by small arms and heavy machine guns. The helicopters are actually struck by fire roughly 17 times a month, officials have said.

Migrated

stars and stripes videos

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up