Skip to comments.US Marine Harrier jets forced to drop unarmed bombs on heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef
Posted on 07/20/2013 5:25:04 AM PDT by naturalman1975
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I was once a range safety office at Crow Valley in the Philippines. When the range was inactive, the local tribesmen would run out to collect the bomb fragments to sell as scrap. I had to ensure that none were hidden by the vegetation before clearing an aircraft “hot”. Sometimes, after a strafing run, the locals would try to collect the very valuable brass shell casings BETWEEN runs.
I developed a large portion of my gray hairs then. :-)
Seriously, there are a large number of unplanned for reasons which may cause a range to close. No matter how carefully you plan, something can go wrong. Remember, “Murphy was an optimist.”
Many aircraft, from military bombers to airliners, cannot land at the same weight at which they took off. Landing gear limitations, etc. They were armed with it when they took off because they were training, practicing dropping bombs on targets, so that in war they can HIT their targets. That is why they were "armed with it in the first place."
If you don't train, you cannot fight & win. If you drop bombs without training, many more of those will miss the target, instead causing "collateral damage" by hitting civilians or friendlies.
Are you saying the US dumps hundreds of thousands of expensive bombs and missiles in the ocean every year for no good reason?
No, I did not and am not "saying the US dumps hundreds of thousands of expensive bombs and missiles in the ocean every year for no good reason?" I have not idea as to the actural number of bombs jettisoned, but would guess that the number is far, far less than "hundreds of thousands". As to your "no good reason" comment, they are dumped for safety. Avoiding the injury or death of a pilot in accident caused by landing too heavy seems like a "good reason", as does preventing the loss of an aircraft. A carrier landing accident caused by excess ordnance very quickly gets very, very expensive, in terms of lives lost. And equipment.
Check YouTube for "carrier landing accidents", then consider what the addition of two 500# bombs might have done to the situation.
BTW, if the range had been clear, those bombs would have been dropped on land, exploded and their cost expended anyway. Many times, the cost/benefit analysis says jettison them.
Oh, the Mk-82 500lb "expensive bomb"? Unit cost $268.50 (in 2000)
Sometimes, you have to dump very expensive hardware in the sea.
The range was clear then became fouled. Not an uncommon occurrence. You should wait to find out why the range officer made the decision he/she did unless of course you enjoy emoting.
One less attempt and they could have landed safely and saved the bombs for next time.
What's the bring back weight of an AV-8B when executing a vertical recovery on a LHD? How far were they from the boat? What was their fuel burn? Were they flying into a headwind? Was the weather bad at the time? What time of day was it? How experienced were the pilots? Did the boat tell them to make several passes? Did a problem develop while attempting to clear the range? et al.
Each aircraft dropped one BDU-45, which were inert and one GBU-12, which were unarmed.
i’ve been to SWBTA (Shoalwater Bay Training Area)...It’s f’ING huge! (20 miles from the Gate to range control, for example) why they didn’t just drop them out in the middle of this wilderness is beyond me...
They would have been oribiting above the sea waiting for that range to clearm until fuel state reached critical. If they had enough fuel to divert to the mainland, they could have extended waiting time,
As a follow up for those who may be interested.
Civilian boats made an unauthorised entry to the drop zone. Their presence was detected just prior to the bomb run, so naturally the run was aborted. The ordnance was dropped into a known area that was safe and not particularly environmentally sensitive and from where it can be recovered if recovery is deemed necessary by divers from either the RAN or USN (logistically, it’s normally going to be easier for the RAN to do it as we can stage locally without having to alter fleet operations, but the USN have said they will do it if we want them to)
It is also worth noting that even the environmental agency responsible for the Reef (the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) says they don’t have a major problem with what happened in this case - it says it was an emergency situation and they understand the priority was to protect the lives of the air crew above all other considerations.
Great getting an update from someone REALLY knowledgeable about the on-site situation!
(Free Republic continues to amaze!)
Many thanks for the update.
tracking on that....
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