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F-16 forced to jettison bombs at Hill AFB

Oct. 23, 2009 - 05:21AM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 23, 2009 - 05:21AM  |  
Firefighters put out a fire at an empty tin shack after an F-16 jettisoned two 500-pound bombs and two fuel tanks just before making an emergency landing a Hill Air Force Base, Utah on Oct. 22.
Firefighters put out a fire at an empty tin shack after an F-16 jettisoned two 500-pound bombs and two fuel tanks just before making an emergency landing a Hill Air Force Base, Utah on Oct. 22. (KSL TV via AP)
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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah Officials at Hill Air Force Base say they will destroy a bomb that was jettisoned Thursday by an F-16 pilot making an emergency landing.

Another jettisoned bomb exploded, destroying a shack and causing a power outage.

The pilot had trouble after taking off from the base Thursday and had to drop two fuel tanks and two unarmed bombs to land safely. One of the bombs unexpectedly exploded on impact, flattening a tin shack in an uninhabited part of the base, about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City. There were no injuries.

The base says the second bomb is buried about 17 feet underground. Col. Patrick Higby said the safest option is to destroy the munition in place using shaped charges to safely direct the explosion. Explosions will start on Saturday morning.

Col. Scott J. Zobrist said both fuel tanks, weighing about 300 gallons each, were accounted for. He said the F-16 pilot was experienced and followed proper procedures, "which involve jettisoning the stores in order for him to reduce ... his gross weight so he can land safely on the base."

Zobrist said it was unclear what went wrong with the jet.

Power to parts of the base was knocked out. Zobrist said the tin shack flattened by the bomb was near a transformer and power lines, leading to the outage.

A stretch of Interstate 15 near the base was briefly shut down in both directions. But Zobrist said that the incident was contained to the base.

In December 2008, an F-16 pilot jettisoned two fuel tanks over the Great Salt Lake. The pilot dropped the tanks onto a mud flat north of Antelope Island after the plane's sensors indicated a fire shortly after takeoff. The pilot landed safely.

The 18-foot-long tanks were each capable of carrying 370 gallons of fuel. They were about two-thirds full when they were dropped, Hill Air Force Base officials said at the time.

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