A mechanical test plug mistakenly left by a civilian subcontractor employee in a fuel vent of an E-8C Joint STARS ground surveillance aircraft led this aircraft to experience a ruptured fuel tank during in-flight refueling and an in-flight emergency during a mission in Southwest Asia on March 13, 2009, Air Combat Command announced July 9, 2009. There were no injuries and the aircrew was able to return the aircraft safely to its forward operating location, but the rupture caused an estimated $25 million in damage, ACC said. Here, an E-8C takes off for a combat sortie over Iraq.
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