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)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.