The US Army has identified five special operations air crew killed in a recent helicopter crash over the Mediterranean Sea.

The 10 November incident resulted in the deaths of two pilots and three crew when their Sikorsky MH-60M Black Hawk suffered a catastrophic crash during non-combat exercises.

“The MH-60 Black Hawk was conducting aerial refuelling training when the aircraft experienced an in-flight emergency resulting in the crash,” the Pentagon said on 13 November.

MH-60 Black Hawk special ops variant

Source: US Air Force

The distinct special operations variant of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, designated the MH-60 within the US Army, carries several unique modifications, including an aerial refuelling probe

A distinct special operations variant of the UH-60 Black Hawk, the MH-60 carries several unique modifications, including an aerial refuelling probe.

The type is operated by the US Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, which provides rotary aviation support to the USA’s elite ground forces under Special Operations Command.

US secretary of defense Lloyd Austin on 12 November called the incident tragic, noting that an investigation is underway.

“We continue to gather more information about this deadly crash,” Austin says.

Pilots Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen Dwyer and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane Barnes were killed in the crash, along with crewmembers Staff Sergeant Tanner Grone, Sergeant Andrew Southard and Sergeant Cade Wolfe, the Pentagon revealed on 13 November.

Defence officials note the incident occurred during “routine flight training” and there are “no indications” of hostile activity.

In recent weeks, US aircraft, ships and ground forces across the Middle East have come under attack more than 40 times. The Pentagon blames Iranian-backed militant groups in Syria and Yemen for the surge, tied to US support for Israel’s war in Gaza.

A US Air Force General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper unmanned air vehicle was shot down off the coast of Yemen on 8 November. Washington in response to the attacks has launched multiple air strikes with Boeing F-15 and Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters against sites used by the Iranian groups in Syria.

The Pentagon carried out a third round of air strikes on 12 November, this time in the Syrian cities of Abu Kamal and Mayadin.

“The strikes were conducted against a training facility and a safe house,” Washington says.

US Central Command has also ordered at least two overflights of the Middle East region by Boeing B-1B heavy bombers, although those do not appear to have been combat missions.