Warplanes: August 27, 2003

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After months of investigation, the U.S. Air Force announced that it almost lost a B-1 bomber over Iraq on March 31st because some of the bombs were loaded improperly. This caused two rivets on the bomb rack to fail, making the bomb release system inoperable. The B-1 was able to land at a nearby airbase. A maintenance crew was flown in and discovered the problem, which took $1.3 million to repair. Errors in loading bombs has always been a risk for bomber crews. During World War II, this would often lead to bombs coming loose, and sometimes detonating inside the aircraft, with disastrous results. Since World War II, bombers, bombs and loading procedures have been redesigned to minimize the chance of bomb loading errors leading to loss of aircraft, or dropping live bombs over an area you didn't intend to bomb. In the B-1 incident, the air force did not report if anyone was disciplined for the loading error.

 


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