Marine Harrier Jet Crashes in Arizona

Holy crap! It was carrying four 500-pound bombs when it crashed into a home and burst into flames a mile from the base.

Question: Why are they training with live bombs over residential neighborhoods?

Does this seem like a huge unnecessary risk to anyone else but me?

Sorry, here’s a link to that story.

I saw this story in the afternoon editions of the Sydney papers. It’s good that there weren’t any serious injuries. The neighbours didn’t seem to be too concerned. One was quoted as saying “we’re used to seeing them crash quite a bit”.

No, it doesn’t. I seem to recall that bombs like these are extremely difficult to detonate unless armed and triggered intentionally. They pose the same risk as dead-weight bombs.

I used to fly fighters for the Air Force.

As other have said, live bombs are designed to be very safe. You’ll notice they didn’t explode.

At every base I ever flew out of, we had a preferred take-off direction when loaded with live bombs. And it was chosen to be away from the houses. Sometimes the winds were strong enough that we couldn’t use the preferred direction and if so, we took of in the non-preferred direction. Oh well.

From there we had routes that minimized the risk by either heading directly out to the edge of the city via the shortest route and beyond, or else a more circuitous route to try to stay over the less densly settled areas. Note those two goals are often contradictory, and one route went right over a very dense but small area. The net effect was to minimize the total number of buildings flown over.
But once the developers build houses off both ends of all the runways, what are we to do?

There is a military / FAA standard on what to build and what not to build near airports and air bases. Google [AICUZ] for more details. It’s only advisory to the local government and the developers through. Accidents are rare enough that most local governments are perfectly willing to get the extra tax dollars from putting inappropriate development right near airports. And developers love the extra profits available from the cheaper land.

The fools that are building a football stadium in PHX right off the end of the runway are Exhibit 1 in stupid and incompatible use.

Why won’t they just ground these goddamn useless bucket-o-nails deathtraps already? Harriers fall out of the sky for no good reason all the time, when will they learn?


Seriously, they don’t.

I haven’t seen too many Harrier crash stories, but I have read more than enough Black Hawk crash stories.

Why do they even need to carry live bombs? Can’t they just carry dummies of the same weight here in the U.S.?

There are secondary effects from close-in bombing that make that not 100% effective for training purposes. The explosions can affect the aircraft’s stability. So, no, I don’t think that the Marines will be very pleased with going to all dummy training.

There’s a joke here, but I’m not going to touch it…

Probably wise of you. :wink:

Marines are in a difficult position. They historically have to make do with less than suitable equipment (Harriers, or the notoriously unreliable Osprey troop plane). And even more than other services, Marines are trained not to put their own safety before the completion of their mission.

Put these two things together and you’re going to have accidents, some fatal, and perhaps even some repeated. You may also have a certain hot-dog, balls-out esprit de corps which results in incidents like a Marine fighter pilot cutting the cable of a ski tram in Italy some years ago during an unauthorized maneuver. The tram crashed to earth, killing several passengers.

Hence the nicknames Widowmaker and Carolina Lawn Dart (Harriers are based in Yuma and Cherry Point, NC).