Strafing of the Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School
The strafing of the Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School was an incident in Little Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, United States, in which a military aircraft on a training mission unintentionally fired dozens of cannon rounds while attempting to fire an aircraft mounted laser. The aircraft was within the training range, as was the target the laser was pointed at. The laser target was approximately 90 degrees off the side of the aircraft, but the bullets fire in front of the aircraft. The bullets flew over 4 miles, with several of them striking the then-named Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School, which housed grades 3–6 and is part of the Little Egg Harbor Township School District. In 2009, the school was converted into a K-6 school and subsequently renamed the Frog Pond Elementary School.
On November 4, 2004, at around 9pm, an F-16 Fighting Falcon jet from the 113th Wing of the District of Columbia Air National Guard, based at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on a training mission at the Warren Grove Bombing Range was climbing upward at 8,000 feet. The lead pilot was on a training ride in pursuit of an upgrade to instructor pilot. A recent software change in the F-16 allowed the externally mounted targeting pod to stabilize on a spot on the earth when the avionics were in Air to Ground Mode, Strafe Sub-Mode. The pilot intended to fire a laser at a strafe target located on the range. The laser and gun share the same trigger. The pilot pulled the trigger, firing not only the laser but also the internal M61 Vulcan cannon, discharging 27 rounds of 20mm ammunition which then fell to the ground, with eight striking the school's roof and the rest hitting the parking lot and the side of the building.
A janitor, who saw holes in the ceiling and had heard something on the roof, contacted the police.
Meanwhile, in Little Egg Harbor, students had been off from school for the New Jersey Teachers' Convention. The school was repaired over the break, and there was an investigation that took over 30 days, sometimes during class times. The day the students returned to the school, there was live coverage from all the news networks.
At the time of the incident, The Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School had over 1,100 students in grades 3–6. In 2009, the school was renovated into a K-6 school and was renamed to the Frog Pond Elementary School.
On November 1, 2006, the district and the United States Air Force announced that a settlement had been reached, whereby the district would be paid $519,070.70 to cover damage to the roof of the school caused in the incident. This is less than the $900,000 that the superintendent had indicated would be needed to cover the costs of replacing the roof damaged in the incident and the process of evaluating the roof's condition after the incident.
- MSNBC, Wed., Nov. 1, 2006 – N.J. school strafed by F-16 to get $519,070. Jet hit elementary school during nighttime training exercise in 2004
- By D'Vera Cohn and Allan Lengel. Washington Post. Friday, November 5, 2004; Page B01. D.C. Guard Jet Fires, Hitting N.J. School