F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Probe blames F-16 pilot for strafing

June 25, 2008 (by Asif Shamim) - The Standard-Examiner is reporting that an air force investigation into a strafing incident at the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) on April 8 was the fault of the pilot.

USAF F-16C block 42 #88-0420 from the 422nd TES flies over the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) dropping AGM-154 Joint Stand-off Weapons (JSOW) on a ground target on March 12th, 2003. [USAF photo by TSgt. Michael Ammons]

The investigation instigated by the 12th Air Force commander concluded the cause of the accident was the pilot's failure to positively identify the intended target.

The pilot from the 388th Fighter wearing night vision goggles had momentarily lost his visual cues of the target area before rolling in for his strafing run. As he reaquired the target area, the pilot misidentified the occupied rental SUV as the target.

The parked SUV was in a military observation point about a mile and half from the intended target.

Two soldiers from Fort Lewis Army Base in Washington were part of a Joint Tactical Air Control (JTAC) unit when it was hit by 20 mm rounds from the jet. Both jumped clear, but sustained slight injuries.

The purpose of JTAC vehicles in the are were to assist pilots in training missions with ground troops by assiting them to target in guide munitions.

"Close air support, the bulk of our operations in combat, is a complex mission in a complex environment," said Col. Scott Dennis, 388th Fighter Wing commander.

"From this incident, our pilots and the ground units we host on the UTTR have taken away valuable lessons on the importance of close communication and coordination. We have since implemented several changes to our tactics and procedures in order to prevent another occurrence."

Official have said appropriate administrative actions have been given to the pilot including additional classroom and simulator training.