Pilot error caused the collision of two F-16 fighters on the ground at Kunsan AB, South Korea, in July, according to Pacific Air Forces investigators. Their accident investigation board uncovered “clear and convincing evidence” that a “pilot’s failure to properly monitor his aircraft’s position relative to the aircraft in front of him” led to the July 29 mishap, according to the report of their findings, issued Tuesday. The report also cited a “breakdown in visual scan, task misprioritization, and channelized attention,” as well as overconfidence and exuberance on the pilot’s part as contributing factors. This pilot was fourth in line for takeoff during an operational readiness exercise. He ran into the fighter ahead of him—the third F-16 in line—after failing to notice that the other three aircraft had stopped for a routine pre-flight check. Neither pilot was injured, but the fourth aircraft sustained more than $2 million in damages and the third received damage totalling some $590,000. (PACAF release) (AIB executive summary)
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.