POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Mechanic’s mistake destroys Belgian F-16 at base



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Library picture: A Belgian Air Force F-16 fighter jet plane taxiing to the runway of Florennes airbase, 15 June 2017. Photo credit: Shutterstock/VanderWolf Images 

A mechanic fired a fighter jet cannon by accident, destroying an F-16 as it was parked at a Belgian air force base and damaging another.

The Belgian air force said in a tweet on Thursday that:

“On 11 October 2018 around 14:10, a fire was reported during maintenance work on a F-16 at Florennes Base. The aircraft was burned. A second aircraft suffered collateral damage.”

Scramble Magazine, published by the Dutch Aviation Society, said on its Facebook page on 12 October:

“It is reported that a probable clumsy fault of a technician resulted in the explosion at Florennes air base (Belgium), resulting in a write-off of Belgium Air Force (BAF) F-16AM FA128.

“In a nearby hangar, positioned at the extension of the flight line, a technician was working on an F-16. It is said that by accident the six-barrel 20mm Vulcan M61A-1 cannon of that F-16 was activated. Apparently, the cannon was loaded and some ammunition hit the FA128. This aircraft had just been refuelled and prepared together with another F-16 for an upcoming afternoon sortie. After impact of the 20mm bullets, FA128 exploded instantly and damaged two other F-16s. Thankfully nobody got killed, only one technician incurred hearing impairment.

“The Belgian Aviation Safety Directorate started an investigation. The Belgian Air Force has some 54 F-16s left now.”

The Belgian F-16s are used to patrol Nato’s frontier with Russia, reported Reuters. RTL Belgium said that a new F-16 cost €40m.

Luxembourg has several military cooperation agreements with Belgium, including the joint purchase of an Airbus 400M military cargo plane.

Florennes is located about 150km northwest of Luxembourg City as the missile crow flies.