MOSCOW, July 21 (RIA Novosti) - Two American fighter jets dropped four unarmed bombs on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef after a training exercise went wrong, the UK-based Sky News TV channel reported on Sunday.
The two AV-8B Harrier jets launched from aircraft carrier USS Bonhomme Richard were forced to jettison the unarmed munitions in the World Heritage-listed marine park off the coast of Queensland state on Tuesday because both planes were running low on fuel and could not land with the bombs on board, the TV channel said, citing the US navy.
The pilots intended to drop the bombs on a designated bombing range on Townshend Island but aborted the mission when controllers reported the area was not clear of hazards.
The four bombs were dropped in more than 50 meters (164 feet) of water away from coral reefs as the pilots tried to minimize the damage, Sky News said, citing US officials.
All the four bombs were inert and did not explode but it was unclear whether any environmental damage was caused, the TV channel said.
The incident occurred on the second day of a three-week joint military training exercise involving around 28,000 US and Australian personnel.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest network of coral reefs rich in marine life stretching over 3,000 km (1,800 miles) along the Australian northeast coast, according to Sky News.