A routine training mission of a three-ship formation of F-16s to drop live ammunition came to an abrupt end. An inexperienced wingman pilot missed key radio calls during our first dive to the drop zone and a “knock it off” call was made by the flight lead, so we returned to base ending the mission prematurely. This call halts any in-flight maneuvers and the jets ascend or descend to briefed deconflicting altitudes when flight safety is compromised. An emphasis is made during pre-flight briefings that there is no rank in the cockpit, meaning that any aircrew of any rank or position can call “knock it off” if flight safety is compromised. Task saturation is defined as having too much work without enough time, tools, or resources to accomplish the task, causing a degradation in performance. Often the first clue that someone is task saturated is when they miss radio transmissions...

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