The 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., hosted a ceremony Friday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Khobar Towers bombing in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, that killed 12 of its own on June 25, 1996. The terrorist bombing of the military housing facility killed 19 airmen and resulted in more than 500 casualties. Friday’s memorial included a wreath laying, a reading of the names of the fallen airmen, and the F-35A’s first missing man flyby, according to a 33rd FW release. Col. Lance Pilch, the commander of the 33rd FW, said “the effect of this terrorism ripples through us even today as we reflect on who these airmen could have been, were they still alive today,” according to the release. Retired Col. Doug Cochran, who commanded the 58th Tactical Fighter Squadron at the time of the attack, said the 20-year span at times “seems like 20 days because our memory of that tragic night is still so clear.” In August 2015, a Saudi man suspected of taking part in the bombing was captured in Beirut and transferred to Riyadh. (See also Fallout from Khobar Towers from the September 1997 issue of Air Force Magazine.)
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.