November 30, 2007 (by Asif Shamim) - Air Force Times reports that an F-15C Eagle pilot has been cited for causing the mid-air collision that cost more than $1 million in repairs to the F-16 he struck during the June 11 accident.
USAF F-16C block 32 #87-0321 from the 64th AS sits in pre-contact position awaiting to receive fuel from a KC-10 extender over the Pacific Alaska Range Complex on April 18th, 2007 during Red Flag-Alaska 07-1.
The accident occurred during the Red Flag-Alaska exercise during June of this year, neither pilot was injured in the incident.
The report released by the Air Combat Commands, Accident Investigation Board on November 30th stated Major Jason Costello from 71st Fighter Squadron based a Langley Air Force Base, was so focused on pursing his targets that he did not realise he had crossed into the airspace occupied by the F-16 flown by Major Brett Paola of the 64th Aggressor Squadron, based out of Nellis Air Force Base.
Costello did not see the F-16. Maj. Paola did not see the F-15 till it was some 3,000 feet away. This gave him just enough time to bank right. Costello hit the F-16 at approximately 600 mph, while Paola was doing approximately 445 mph.
The impact caused the F-15 to become uncontrollable, resulting in Costello ejecting at 26,000 feet and landing in woods in Pacific Alaska Range Complex. Local National Guard rescued the down airman. Paola on the other hand returned to Eielson Air Force base with damage to his left wing, stabiliser and tail fin.
Costello, an instructor pilot on the F-15 with over 1500 hours flight time served as the squadrons deputy director of operations. Paola was reservist pilot with over 1400 hours experience on the F-16.