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Pilot safety.

Capt Yarbrough was flying as Aces 12, number two of a four-ship COMBAT ARCHER sortie at Tyndall AFB, Fla., to employ a live AIM-120 missile against a drone. After setting up the briefed profile and receiving clearance to fire, Capt Yarbrough depressed the pickle button. The AIM-120 rocket motor fired, but instead of leaving the missile rail, the missile remained on the aircraft. The thrust from the missile's rocket motor induced a severe yaw moment. Capt Yarbrough reacted to the unexpected yaw by applying rudder and full aileron. The chase aircraft perceived that Capt Yarbrough's jet was about to depart controlled flight and alerted him on the radio. After recovering the aircraft, Capt Yarbrough applied correct hung ordnance. While 53 WEG telemetry personnel confirmed that the missile battery had expired and the missile was safe, Capt Yarbrough continued to experience uncommanded roll. He accomplished a controllability check, slowing the F-16 to landing airspeed to determine if a landing was executable. Still unable to stop a right roll tendency, Capt Yarbrough ran the trim malfunction checklist. He disconnected aircraft trim from the flight controls; the uncommanded roll stopped. After consultation with the supervisor of flying and coordination for the hung ordnance recovery pattern, Capt Yarbrough returned to Tyndall, complied with local procedures for hung ordnance dearming, and shut down uneventfully. As this was the first ever hang fire of a missile on an F-16, there were no established procedures for handling all the repercussions from this malfunction. Capt Yarbrough's superb airmanship prevented a catastrophic event and averted potential loss of life.


Capt Ruven G. Yarbrough

79 FS, 20 FW

Shaw AFB, S.C.
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Author:Yarbrough, Ruven G.
Publication:Combat Edge
Date:Nov 1, 2008
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