An accident investigation board found a bird strike caused a T-38C Talon to crash outside Sheppard AFB, Tex., last summer. During the July 19 incident, the bird shattered the canopy, which then “sent fragments through the No. 2 engine, causing engine failure,” according to the AIB summary, released Dec. 10. Instructor Pilot Maj. Christopher Thompson and German air force student pilot 1st Lt. Julius Dressbach initially attempted to return to base, delaying ejection in an effort to avoid flying over Wichita Falls, Tex., states the report. That turn, however, “increased drag on the aircraft, robbing it of badly needed airspeed and lift, which caused the aircraft to enter into an unrecoverable stall,” states the summary. Thompson and Dressbach, both from the 80th Flying Training Wing at Sheppard, ejected from the aircraft and suffered non life-threatening injuries. They had been conducting touch-and-go exercises when the bird strike occurred. The loss of the aircraft was estimated at some $8 million, states the release.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.