BALAD, Iraq (Jan. 31, 2008) — Poor pressure maintenance of the nose wheel tire caused the destruction of an F-16 fighter jet during take-off July 15, according to an official U.S. military investigation.
The incident occurred at Balad Air Base in Iraq.
The report said the tire exploded as the pilot was accelerating for take-off, and the wheel ran over a cable on the runway. The pilot noted a noise and rapid deceleration, according to the report, and he subsequently ejected and the plane eventually crashed off the end of the runway and burst into flames.
The report notes that the nose wheel had been replaced shortly before the incident and no one had checked the tire pressure.
Evidence from the scene showed that the tire failed because of under-inflation, according to the report. A few moments after the tire failed, the nose wheel strut collapsed, the report said.
The report said photographs taken prior to take-off showed that the nose wheel tire was badly under-inflated.
The value of the aircraft, ordnance and equipment was estimated to be $24 million. The report said there was no other property damage or injuries to military or civilian personnel except for minor runway scrapes.