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US Air Force: Yep, We Bombed Japan by Mistake

And here's how it happened
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2020 10:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Nothing like having a 500-pound bomb land on your property—but that's what someone experienced in Japan last year. A US Air Force F-16 fighter was flying a training mission in November when the pilot dropped a GBU-12 Paveway II bomb near Daughon Bombing Range in Aomori Prefecture, Popular Mechanics reports. Unable to see the target amid scattered clouds at night, the pilot asked another plane in his three-ship formation for coordinates, but somehow the pilot got confused and dropped it on the wrong place. Luckily the laser-guided bomb was inert, but Air Force Magazine reports that it still landed on private property 3.4 miles from the intended target.

The Air Force blames the mishap on "channelized attention, changing weather, and targeting technical error." No damage or injuries were reported, but the pilot was grounded, disqualified, retrained, and told to inform all other Misawa Air Base pilots "on the sequence of events leading up to the mishap to prevent a similar incident." Such incidents do happen and can upset relations with local governments when they occur at overseas bases. In this case, Newsweek reported last year that Aomori province issued a "severe protest" over an apparent lack of official transparency. The central government in Tokyo said it "issued a severe protest against the US side" and denied any attempt at a cover-up. (Read more US Air Force stories.)

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