SrA. James A. Hansen was too close to a controlled detonation of unserviceable ordnance last September at JB Balad, Iraq, and that mistake cost him his life, Air Force investigators have determined. Hansen was one of 19 observers watching the blast. Debris struck and killed him. Air Force Materiel Command’s ground accident investigation board has determined that the observer group was “not far enough away from the explosion to be completely outside the blast range,” states a release. Hansen was an airfield management operations coordinator from Eglin AFB, Fla., who was deployed to Balad. “The loss of SrA. Hansen is tragic,” said Col. John Franz, board president. Franz added, “He was a dedicated warrior, a patriotic citizen, and a valued member of the AFMC team.” As a result of the mishap, Balad officials halted all non-emergency detonations and are rewriting EOD operating instructions. (GAIB report full text; caution, large-sized file)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.