Osan halted usage of dummy bombs by A-10s, but not by F-16s
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The same day an Air Force A-10 attack plane accidentally dropped a dummy bomb on a South Korean factory last month, officials halted the bomb’s use by the A-10 squadron at Osan Air Base, the Air Force has disclosed.
Osan’s F-16 fighter jets, however, have not halted use of the BDU-33 device because the issue appears to stem from the A-10 delivery system and not the bombs, according to a spokesman for Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing
“The F-16s at Osan use a different delivery system for dropping the BDU-33 and continue to use these training munitions,” 51st Fighter Wing spokesman Maj. Michael E. Shavers said Sunday in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.
The nonexplosive training bomb that fell from an A-10 on Nov. 29 ripped a path through a two-story wire factory in Eumseong. No one was injured, but frightened workers were sent scurrying from the building amid a cloud of dust and the incident drew national attention from South Korean news media.
Two more of the bombs have fallen recently in Japan in separate incidents — both involving F-16s based at Misawa Air Base. One occurred Nov. 15, the other on Dec. 6. No one was injured in either incident.
Misawa officials, however, have suspended use of the BDU-33 pending the outcome of their investigation into the two Japan incidents.
Osan’s A-10 Thunderbolt II attack planes are assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron, part of the 51st Fighter Wing headquartered here.
“There’s no date that’s been set to resume using the BDU-33 training munition with the A-10,” Shavers said by phone Monday. “That’s pending the conclusion of the investigation into the Nov. 29th incident.”
The BDU-33 is used to mark ground targets during bomb-run training. On impact the bomb emits whitish smoke that can help pilots pinpoint the target area.
Despite the three recent incidents, the top U.S. Air Force general in the Pacific has said he’s confident the Air Force will be able to continue using the BDU-33.
“It’s not a destructive bomb, but it could cause some damage if it fell in someone’s lap,” Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Paul Hester said in an interview last week with Stars and Stripes. “My expectation and my confidence is we will find no significant issue … and continue to drop those.”