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Osan wraps up BDU-33 investigation

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 51st Fighter Wing and the Republic of Korea Air Force have completed an exhaustive and Air Force wide investigation of an inadvertent release of a small non-explosive practice munition on Nov. 29, 2006 by an aircraft stationed at Osan Air Base.

An A/OA-10 aircraft assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron was returning to Osan from a routine training mission at approximately 12:30 p.m. when an apparent systems problem caused the inadvertent release of a 25 pounds practice munition -- a BDU-33. The small, non-explosive training munition then struck a civilian factory in northern Choong-chung province damaging the building but causing no injuries.

The 51st Fighter Wing commander directed a wing-wide stand down of flying to provide for a thorough review of procedures. A full investigation by the 51st Wing Safety office revealed that for an undetermined reason, the triple ejector rack on the A/OA-10 malfunctioned and did not release one BDU-33 over the range as commanded by the pilot. This left the BDU hung "unsecure." During the aircraft's return to base, the BDU-33 fell from the plane.

The 51st Wing commander, Brig. Gen Joe Reynes, approved the investigation report and ordered the implementation of several recommendations to mitigate any future inadvertent release.

The most significant recommendations include a request for clarification of aircraft maintenance technical data to quantify the torque required on sway braces during the BDU-33 loading procedure.

Next, hung BDU-33 routing and procedures were reviewed and modified. The 51st Operations Group is making every effort to avoid populated areas when returning to base.

The recommendation requests future flight test data for SUU-20 to be used on A-10s. The SUU-20 is the ejector rack used on the F-16 and on other aircraft which release BDU munitions.

"We will continue to focus on the successful and professional accomplishment of our mission to provide for the defense of the Republic of Korea," said Brig. Gen. Reynes. "We learned a great deal from conducting this investigation and we're putting what we learned into practice."

Starting this week, the 25th Fighter Squadron will resume use of the BDU-33 for training purposes.

U.S. Air Force pilots fly only after extensive preparation of both the pilots and their aircraft. All missions are professionally planned and executed.