No comment from Air Force at Osan on status of dummy bomb use
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Air Force officials here wouldn’t say Tuesday if their pilots are continuing to fly with a type of dummy bomb that fell from American jets in three separate accidents recently in the Pacific region.
“We aren’t going to have anything for today,” said Maj. Michael E. Shavers, spokesman for 51st Fighter Wing commander Brig. Gen. Joseph Reynes Jr.
A BDU-33 training bomb fell from an Osan-based A-10 fighter on Nov. 29 over Eumseong, South Korea, tearing a path through a two-story wire factory. No one was injured, but the impact sent frightened workers fleeing for safety amid a cloud of dust.
Two of the dummy bombs also fell in Japan in separate incidents involving U.S. warplanes based at Misawa Air Base. One occurred on Nov. 15, the other on Dec. 6. No one was injured in either incident.
The Air Force has said all aircraft were on training flights.
It’s used to mark ground targets during bomb-run training. A pilot drops the bomb onto a target area and, on impact, it emits whitish smoke that helps other pilots target their bombs.
After the Dec. 6 incident, Misawa temporarily halted use of the BDU-33 pending investigation into the accidents there.
The halt applied to Misawa’s 13th and 14th fighter squadrons and was ordered by 35th Fighter Wing commander Brig. Gen. Sam Angelella at Misawa and by Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, 5th Air Force commander. It could not immediately be learned Tuesday whether Misawa’s halt to use of the BDU-33 was still in effect and whether its investigation into the two incidents had been completed.
At Osan, the day after the Nov. 29 incident that damaged the factory, officials imposed a one-day flying halt within the 25th Fighter Squadron, which flies the A-10 Thunderbolt II. The bomb fell from one of the squadron’s aircraft as it was returning from a training mission at Pilsung Range, about 90 miles east of Osan Air Base and about 60 miles from the factory.
Flying was halted to allow the squadron time for a review of bomb-release procedures and other safety matters, wing officials said at the time.
But on Tuesday, Shavers said he could not readily disclose whether a similar ban of the BDU-33 or other munitions was or had been in effect.
Wing safety experts at Osan opened an investigation into the Nov. 29 accident. But Shavers said Tuesday he could not immediately provide details on the outcome of the investigation, including its specific findings.
In the Dec. 6 incident in Japan, the pilot of an F-16 fighter of Misawa’s 13th Fighter Squadron tried to release a BDU-33 over Draughon Range but received an indication of a “hung bomb” — one that failed to drop. The pilot declared an emergency.
Misawa officials have said they believe the bomb came free when the pilot landed at Misawa.
In the Nov. 15 incident over Japan, a BDU-33 from one of the 13th Fighter Squadron’s F-16s failed to release during a training run at Draughon Range. Base officials have said the bomb probably dropped later over the Pacific Ocean.