Aircrew to blame for farm

By Dave GooderhamAN inquiry into how a fighter jet dropped a dummy bomb on farmland has ruled crew error was to blame for the accident.The RAF Lakenheath airmen involved in the incident were immediately grounded, but they have since undergone extra training and are now back flying F-15E Strike Eagles from the base.

By Dave Gooderham

AN inquiry into how a fighter jet dropped a dummy bomb on farmland has ruled crew error was to blame for the accident.

The RAF Lakenheath airmen involved in the incident were immediately grounded, but they have since undergone extra training and are now back flying F-15E Strike Eagles from the base.

Air base bosses said the investigation into January's incident had found the two-man crew of the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet had been responsible for the incident.


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The 25lb inactive bomb was dropped during a routine training mission in farmland near Howden and Market Weighton, Yorkshire, and buried itself several feet in the ground, causing a hole measuring 18ins in diameter

Brigadier General Mark Matthews, 48th Fighter Wing commander, said: “The procedures in place before January 8 had an extraordinary record of preventing such a mishap. We refined these procedures even more to preclude recurrence.”

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The aircrew involved in the incident were placed on non-flying status during the internal investigation, which looked at the cause and contributory factors of in an effort to find ways to prevent future incidents.

Base officials said it had been the first unintentional release of a training bomb from a F-15E Strike Eagle since the aircraft arrived in the UK in 1992.

But members of Lakenheath Action Group, who campaign for the removal of nuclear weapons, said the incident was an example of why the air base should be closed.

Mel Harrison, from the group, said: “This incident shows how easily these things could happen and it could have quite easily been carrying something which would have caused even more danger.

“If it had fallen on a housing estate or if there had been nuclear weapons on board, the accident would have been a lot more terrible and caused a lot more devastation.”

But Brig Gen Matthews said: “We hold our relationship with the United Kingdom, and especially our relationship with our nearby neighbours, in high regard.

“We're dedicated to ensuring the safety of our community while training our aircrews to the high standards necessary to meet the combined security needs of the United States and the United Kingdom.”

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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