A-10 Accidentally Discharges Non-Explosive Munition Over South Korea

A 25th Fighter Squadron A-10C Thunderbolt II ascends the skies.
A 25th Fighter Squadron A-10C Thunderbolt II ascends the skies April 9, 2020, at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Darien Perez)

An A-10 Warthog pilot from Osan Air Base, South Korea, accidentally dropped a non-explosive munition while on training flight earlier this month, and search teams have been unable to find it, according to the U.S. Air Force.

The pilot, assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron at the base, inadvertently "released an unguided, non-explosive projectile in a remote off-range area on Oct. 13," 1st Lt. Daniel de La Fé, spokesman for the 51st Fighter Wing, said in an email Thursday. Task & Purpose was first to report the incident.

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The U.S. alerted the ROK Ministry of Defense and organized a joint search-and-recovery team to scour the range. After three days, the teams were unsuccessful in locating the projectile; however, both teams determined that, given the "terrain at the projected location of impact, there was not a significant threat to anyone" in the surrounding area, de La Fé said.

"In order to preserve operational security, we cannot discuss the specifics of the projectile other than it is made up of a composite material that would either break-up or burn upon impact," he added.

The Air Force has not issued a safety stand-down, but an investigation into the undetermined release is ongoing. Leadership at the fighter wing "have implemented additional mitigation measures to reduce the likelihood of incidents like this occurring in the future," de La Fé said, but did not offer additional details on what these protocols entail.

The A-10 can carry up to 16,000 pounds of mixed ordnance, to include 500-lb Mk-82 and 2,000-lb Mk-84 series low/high drag bombs; both are unguided, meaning they do not use GPS to hit a specific target. The A-10 can also drop a variety of combined effects munitions, or free-fall cluster bombs -- with incendiary or mine-busting effects.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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