Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota hosts the 28th Bomber Wing, consisting of two squadrons of B-1B Lancer heavy strategic bombers. Recently, special cannons were installed along the runways to scare away birds.
Years of experience have shown that it is best for birds and bombers to stay away from each other. In confirmation of this, sad statistics. In 1987, a pelican collided with a B-1B bomber flying at a speed of about 1000 km / h. As a result of the accident, the plane crashed and three crew members were killed.
In May 2016, a B-52 strategic bomber collided with birds and crashed on the island of Guam. In total, the US Air Force lost 27 aircraft and 36 pilots from such collisions.
Traditionally, Ellsworth has used special pyrotechnics to scare away birds. Currently, this function is performed by non-flight pilots armed with shotguns. However, they will now be replaced by a whole battery of 24 remote-controlled sonic cannons fitted with 20-liter propane tanks. On command from the control tower, a small amount of gas is released and then ignited, causing a deafening popping sound.
It has already been calculated that the new system will pay off. For example, the base spends up to $ 200, 000 annually on liquidating bird damage, while the cannons cost $ 150, 000, and their maintenance costs only $ 2, 000 a year. And the birds will not die anymore.