A Navy strike fighter sucked debris into both of its engines during a late January midair refueling, causing at least $2.5 million in damage to the aircraft, according to the Navy Safety Center.
No injuries were reported in the Jan. 27 incident, which involved two F/A-18F Super Hornets from Strike Fighter Squadron 106 — the Gladiators — based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesperson Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg said.
One jet was receiving fuel when it ripped the fueling basket from the other aircraft and sucked debris from it into its engines, Cragg said.
Both aircraft returned safely to Oceana, where their flight originated.
“The cause of the mishap is under investigation,” Cragg said.
The Naval Safety Center classified the mishap as type “A," which means that it caused at least $2.5 million in damages.
It’s the fourth Class A aviation reported by the safety center since the new federal fiscal year began on Oct. 1.
It also follows a similar mid-air refueling incident involving VFA-106 in mid-December.
Courtney Mabeus is a senior writer at Navy Times. Mabeus previously covered the military for The Virginian-Pilot, in Norfolk, Va., where she first set foot on an aircraft carrier.