Sat, Dec 16, 2006
USAF Says 'Garbage in - Bombs Away'
In an almost comical incident that could have had decidedly
tragic results, a USAF B-52 Stratofortress bomber accidentally
dropped its load of concrete practice bombs in Kanopolis Lake near
Salina, KS this past July.
Witnesses say the bomber made a low pass over the lake before
returning and dropping several "bombs." What they saw were concrete
dummy bombs the Air Force uses to simulate real weapons. The weight
of the concrete approximates real bombs allowing the aircraft to
fly as if it was actually loaded.
Still, those dummy bombs can cause damage. In fact, reports say
they landed in the water dangerously close to the reservoir's dam,
but apparently didn't harm the structure.
An Air Force press release says it's concluded an investigation
into what happened. The crew was on a routine training
mission, which included an aerial refueling and a practice bombing
run at the Smoky Hill Range/Bison Military Area a few miles
southwest of Salina.
The USAF says this was a case of garbage in, garbage out. The
crew entered incorrect coordinates in the bombing and navigation
system while programing the computers on the aircraft. The system
directs the flight path of the aircraft and the bomb release point
so as to hit the specified target. It's all dependent, however, on
using the correct coordinates.
The release read, "The aircraft's system malfunctioned and did
not release on the first pass. After checking the bomb bay
compartment, the crew confirmed the weapons were still on board the
aircraft. The crew made another pass and successfully jettisoned
the weapons. However, the incorrect coordinates were still in the
According to the Associated Press, the unidentified crew,
assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, LA, were
temporarily "grounded and underwent tightly monitored retraining
and qualification processes to ensure this kind of error would not
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