SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
Airmen from the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal team worked together to render safe a hung flare on an F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft that failed to discharge during flight Nov. 9.
EOD members responded to the in-flight emergency along with the 4th CES fire department and end of runway crew team.
“We’re responsible for making safe any explosive hazards that are associated with the aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Travis Hughes, 4th CES EOD section chief of logistics. “When an in-flight emergency takes place we partner with the fire department and the end of runway team and we evaluate the item, determine if it’s safe or not, like the flare. If it presents as an explosive hazard, we take it to the disposal range and make it safe.”
After taking control of the hung flare, EOD Airmen transported it to the EOD bomb range to properly dispose.
“The flares are an explosive hazard because of its dangerous components, so after taking the flare off the aircraft it’s taken out to the range to a safe location,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Saxton, 4th CES EOD technician. “We pull it out of the dispenser and then once it’s pulled from the dispenser we blow it up, disposing of it.”
F-15E Strike Eagle aircrew deployed the aircraft’s flares as part of a routine exercise and one did not eject. Saxton explained when an item, like the flare, is intended to fire and doesn’t, it’s still considered armed and, therefore, hazardous.
“Basically it’s like taking a normal bullet and pulling the trigger and it punctures the primer but the bullet doesn’t go off,” said Saxton. “So, now you’ve got an armed up, ready to go, very hazardous item. What happens is the pilot essentially pulled the trigger and nothing happened or it comes out and gets damaged halfway. You don’t know what kind of condition that’s put it in and that’s when [EOD] gets involved.”
EOD responded to the inflight emergency within 15 minutes and worked with the fire department and end of runway team on the flightline to cordon off the aircraft. Within 30 minutes, the team had removed the flare so the aircraft could resume normal operations.
“Ultimately the mission for the F-15E Strike Eagle comes to a stop because no one can make that explosive hazard safe without us,” said Hughes. “We’re responsible for moving those hazards and returning that aircraft to fully mission-capable status.”
EOD’s overall mission is to provide emergency response capability not only to the flightline but to the entire base as well as the local community.
“Any time there’s an explosive hazard on or off the base we’re going to be the organization that comes in, identifies it, evaluates it, and ultimately renders it safe,” said Hughes.