Air Force Accidentally Bombs Florida –People.com; Happy Fourth of July!

Maybe Moody AFB forgot the bombs were supposed to burst in air, and the pyrotechnics were meant as Fourth of July fireworks.

A BDU-33, U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY AIRMAN 1ST CLASS EUGENE OLIVER
A BDU-33, U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY AIRMAN 1ST CLASS EUGENE OLIVER

“There is a safety investigation that is ongoing to see what caused it,” an air base spokesperson tells PEOPLE. “We’re also trying to look into any lessons that we can learn from it and mitigate the situation to prevent it from happening in the future.”

The spokesperson says the investigation’s results will be released after it is finished.

That’s according to Char Adams, People.com, 3 July 2019, Air Force Accidentally Bombs Florida in Botched Training Exercise — but the Explosives Were Inactive: Authorities are searching for the dummy bombs and urged the public not to touch the devices if found,

She also quoted me, apparently from the WCTV story:

Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman said he was concerned about the potential risks the lost bombs could pose.

“Everything around here depends on the water. We drink our of the groundwater, but we use the rivers all the time for recreation, swimming, fishing, boating. In particular the Florida counties in the Suwannee River Basin, it’s the main stay of the economies,” Quarterman said.

“What else is in it, what are the pyrotechnics, what kind of environment damage could it cause?” he said. “We don’t really know. We’d like to know.”

Remember if you find it, don’t touch it, do call 911, and Moody AFB recommends:

If the training munition is found, do not approach it, take note of the location, leave the area and keep others away. Then, contact the 23d Wing Command Post at (229) 257-3501 or your local authorities.

This story is nationwide via Associated Press, for example Washington Post, 1 July 2019, Air Force jet hits bird, drops 3 dummy bombs over Florida.

One named the Moody spokesperson. Mike Ciandella, The Blaze, 3 July 2019, Air Force jet accidentally dropped dummy bombs on Florida,

Capt. Jessica Colby, the chief of public affairs at Moody Air Force Base, told TheBlaze that a routine investigation into the incident was still ongoing, but that as of Wednesday morning “no damages or injuries” related to the incident had been reported “and no BDU-33s were found.”

A counterpoint to “no damages or injuries” was provided by Paul Szoldra, Task & Purpose, 2 July 2019, Air Force A-10 gets hit by bird, ‘inadvertently’ drops 3 dummy bombs in Florida,

The bird would probably disagree.

The Blaze also had some background:

This isn’t the first time that a BDU-33 dummy bomb has accidentally been dropped. In 2008 a BDU-33 was unintentionally dropped from an F-16 and fell in an apartment complex in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

That 2008 report has some detail about the “pyrotechnics”. Noah Schactman, Wired, 16 March 2008, Video: F-16 Bombs Tulsa (see also Tulsa World, 14 March 2008, Updated: Dummy bomb crashes into Tulsa apartment building),

Each bomb is equipped with a smoke charge, which Air Force Maj. Gen. Henry M. “Bud” Wyatt described as similar to fireworks. The charge is about the size of a 10-gauge shotgun shell, others said.

The Wired story says the smoke charge is so the pilot can see if the dummy bomb hit its target.

And the Wired story notes Tulsa was not the first to get BDU-33s dropped on it:

As strange as the situation was, Tulsa was not the first Oklahoma city to be accidentally bombed by American forces. Boise City lawyer Stan Manske said his town, which has long claimed to be the only U.S. city bombed by its own country, is happy to welcome Tulsa to the fold. “We will share the glory, with all due respect,” Manske said.

Did this happen in Tulsa in the same place again five years later? Newson6.com, 21 October 2014, 21 October 2014, F-16 Accidentally Drops Dummy Bomb On Tulsa Apartment Complex.

When and where has Moody AFB lost these BDU-33 practice bombs before? And what’s in them?

A company called Delfasco claims to make them: 25 LB. PRACTICE BOMB,

The military standard 25 lb. practice bomb is used as a training aid for all Air Force and Navy pilots. With various bomb rack configurations, they are used on almost every fixed-wing fighter/bomber aircraft in the U.S. inventory. Commonly referred to as the MK-76 or BDU-33, practice bombs have a spotting charge that releases a cloud of smoke on impact. Practice bombs are used to simulate the MK-82 in low drag configuration. They are made from a small cast-iron and steel non-explosive ordnance that is used in training to simulate actual bombs. Practice bombs are also used to qualify systems and personnel.

According to the Air Force, each BDU-33 costs anywhere from $3,812 to $17,366, depending on the year of procurement. So it seems like Moody AFB could spend at least $12-50,000 finding the three it lost. Source: COMMITTEE STAFF PROCUREMENT BACKUP BOOK FY 2001 BUDGET ESTIMATES FEBRUARY 2000: PROCUREMENT OF AMMUNITION, OFFICE OF ORIGIN: DIRECTORATE OF SUPPLY COMBAT SUPPORT DIVISION (HQ USAF/ILSR).

Last night multiple people heard a very loud noise, loud enough to be heard in Baker and Suwannee Counties, which have Columbia County in between. Maybe it was just thunder. Maybe Moody AFB knows something about it.

I will ask Capt. Colby tomorrow.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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