Update: The Pentagon has confirmed that all seven airmen aboard the Blackhawk helicopter that crashed last night in western Iraq were killed, per CNN.
There were no survivors. The crew of a second aircraft that was flying alongside the helicopter reported no signs of hostile fire.
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A U.S. Military helicopter has crashed in western Iraq near the border with Syria, U.S. Central Command said in a late Thursday statement.
March 15, 2018
Release Number 20180315-28
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
U.S. military aircraft crashes in western Iraq
TAMPA, Fla. – A U.S. military aircraft has crashed in western Iraq with U.S. service members aboard.
Rescue teams are responding to the scene of the downed aircraft at this time.
Further details will be released when available.
An investigation will be initiated to determine the cause of the incident.
ABC news reports that at least some aboard were killed, according to a U.S. official.
The helicopter is believed to be a HH-60 Black Hawk variant, known as the Pave Hawk, which crashed near al-Qaim, near Anbar province close to the Syrian border.
Seven people were aboard, and fatalities are "likely" according to Reuters.
A US military HH-60 helicopter has “gone down” in western Iraq near the border with Syria, according two US defense officials. They caution these are early reports & that the helicopter was carrying 7 personnel but was not on a combat mission - @barbarastarrcnn reports— Dianne Gallagher (@DianneG) March 15, 2018
LATEST: All 7 people aboard U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter that went down in western Iraq are U.S. Air Force airmen. The crash is believed to be the first fatal helicopter crash in Iraq since the U.S. began fighting ISIS there in 2014. https://t.co/sG8uozvjW1 pic.twitter.com/YxPnuGNsPW— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) March 15, 2018
Last month the U.S. Air Force Central Command announced it would be sending A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, along with HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar as part of President Trump's South Asia strategy as well as for ongoing operations in Afghanistan.
Officials said that the helicopter was reportedly not on a combat mission.
HH-60 Pave Hawk
The Pave Hawk was designed to conduct day or night personnel recovery operations into hostile environments to recover isolated personnel during war. The HH-60G is also tasked to perform military operations other than war, including civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, humanitarian assistance, security cooperation/aviation advisory, NASA space flight support, and rescue command and control.
It is a highly modified version of the Black Hawk, which features upgraded communications and navigation suite that includes integrated inertial navigation/global positioning/Doppler navigation systems, satellite communications, secure voice, and Have Quick communications.
All HH-60Gs have an automatic flight control system, night vision goggles with lighting and forward looking infrared system that greatly enhances night low-level operations. Additionally, Pave Hawks have color weather radar and an engine/rotor blade anti-ice system that gives the HH-60G an adverse weather capability.
Pave Hawk mission equipment includes a retractable in-flight refueling probe, internal auxiliary fuel tanks, two crew-served 7.62mm or .50 caliber machineguns, and an 8,000-pound (3,600 kilograms) capacity cargo hook. To improve air transportability and shipboard operations, all HH-60Gs have folding rotor blades.
Pave Hawk combat enhancements include a radar warning receiver, infrared jammer and a flare/chaff countermeasure dispensing system.
HH-60G rescue equipment includes a hoist capable of lifting a 600-pound load (270 kilograms) from a hover height of 200 feet (60.7 meters), and a personnel locating system that is compatible with the PRC-112 survival radio and provides range and bearing information to a survivor's location.
Pave Hawks are equipped with an over-the-horizon tactical data receiver that is capable of receiving near real-time mission update information. (af.mil)