The base said in a release that the aircraft were on a routine training mission when the mishap occurred at about 9:10 a.m. There were two people aboard each aircraft, for a total of four.
Emergency response personnel from Vance are now on the scene to treat casualties and help with recovery efforts, the release said.
The names of the deceased are being withheld, pending notification of their next of kin, Vance said. A team will investigate the incident.
In a statement, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, said he was deeply saddened by the accident and loss of the airmen, and offered his prayers to the Vance community and the pilots’ family and friends.
But he also said Congress must do more to make sure training and readiness programs are funded well enough to avoid more such incidents. Inhofe said the Defense authorization bill passed last year included funding for training and flight time, repairs and modernization of aircraft, and more policies meant to improve safety, and this year’s bill will authorize more such funding.
“Over the last decade, more active-duty service members died as a result of training-related incidents than in combat operations,” Inhofe said. “While training-related casualties are down this year, even a single instance is too many. We’ve known this is a problem that can’t be solved in a year, and more must be done.”
“Military aviation is inherently dangerous, and our pilots and pilot trainees rely on training to ensure they can do their mission,” Inhofe continued. “That’s why it’s so important that Congress ensure training and readiness programs are well-funded. This is the least we can do to make sure our airmen can safely meet current and future threats and to prevent incidents like what happened at Vance today from happening again.”
Vance is the home of the 71st Flying Training Wing, which flies the T-1A Jayhawk, the T-6A Texan II, and the T-38 to train hundreds of pilots each year.
This is a breaking news story. It will be updated as events unfold.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.