Air Force to pay $25 million after accidentally killing contractor in F-16 strafing run

An F-16 Viper assigned to the 311th Fighter Squadron, takes off from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, July 27, 2020

The U.S. government will pay $24.6 million to the widow of an Air Force contractor who was killed after an F-16 accidentally strafed his position with 20mm rounds, court records show.

Retired Master Sgt. Charles “Chuck” Holbrook, a former Tactical Air Control Party airman turned defense contractor, was killed during a nighttime live-fire training exercise at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on January 31, 2017.

Holbrook was killed “when an F-16 student pilot mistook the line of rental cars for the similarly aligned target and was ordered to fire at the group, blowing up one of the rental cars and striking Holbrook in the head with a 20mm round,” according to court documents. 

Holbrook died several hours later at

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Air Force Settles $25 Million Lawsuit for F-16 Strafing Run That Killed Contractor

Editor’s Note: Randi McGinn, the family’s lawyer, told Military.com on Friday that the family has settled for an undisclosed amount less than $25 million. “$25 million was the initial demand, but the case was never settled for what the demand was,” McGinn said in a phone call, but would not disclose the new amount, citing family privacy. “They have enough to take care of them for the rest of their lives,” she added. The article and headline have been updated to reflect this new reporting.

A district judge ruled this week ruled that the U.S. Air Force was responsible for the death of a U.S. contractor accidentally killed during a live-fire training exercise.

Charles Holbrook, a retired master sergeant and former Tactical Air Control Party airman, died Jan. 31, 2017, at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, after an F-16 Fighting Falcon student pilot incorrectly identified the target location during

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Family of contractor killed in F-16 strafing accident will get payout in settlement with Air Force

The family of a contractor who was killed in a strafing accident during a 2017 Air Force training exercise has reached a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit against the service.

Charles Holbrook, a retired Air Force master sergeant and tactical air control party airman, was fatally shot Jan. 31, 2017, at the White Sands Missile Range near Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. An F-16 Fighting Falcon, flown by a student pilot on a nighttime training mission, mistook a row of rental cars in an observation area for the target and fired on them.

Holbrook was struck in the head with a 20mm round at about 7:18 p.m. and died an hour and a half later at the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

His wife of more than 22 years, Belen, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Air Force and two unidentified F-16

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