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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Air Force to Pay Out $25 Million for Accidental F-16 Strafing Run That Killed Contractor

The family of a U.S. contractor accidentally killed during an Air Force live-fire training exercise will receive nearly $25 million from the U.S. government, a district judge ruled this week.

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 the nighttime training, instead shooting at Holbrook’s location, according to court documents.

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Holbrook, who was working as a contractor for Sensors Unlimited, now a division of Raytheon Technologies, was killed when the student “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 20 mm round,”

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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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