Contractor killed, Airman injured by F-16 shooting targets during training

One civilian contractor is dead and an active duty airman is injured in a training accident on a military range in the White Sands of New Mexico.

Holloman Air Force Base public affairs said in a statement that the Tuesday night accident involved members of a ground-control party being hit as two F-16 Fighting Falcon jets used unspecified air-to-ground munitions at the Red Rio Range, located within the White Sands Missile Range complex near the base.

The incident occurred at approximately 7:30 p.m. local time, according to the statement. Both affected ground personnel were medically evacuated to Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, where the contractor was pronounced dead at approximately 9 p.m. The airman was released after being treated.

An investigation has begun and in the “fact finding” stage according to the release.

Holloman’s wing commander offered his condolences calling the accident a tragedy.

“Our hearts go out to all those touched by the tragedy that occurred last night,” said Col. Houston Cantwell, 49th Wing Commander. “We are committed to supporting those affected and hold them in our thoughts and prayers.”

The F-16s involved are assigned to the 54th Fighter Group, a geographically separated unit, from Luke AFB, Az.

The injured service member is assigned to the 7th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Bliss, Texas, a geographically separated unit assigned to the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing located at Moody AFB, Georgia, according to the Associated Press.

The victims’ identities have not been released.

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  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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