An incident that took place in January of this year is being investigated, in which a Dutch Air Force F-16 managed to shoot itself with its own MA61A1 Vulcan Gatling gun at a military range on the island of Vlieland, bringing the concept of friendly fire to a whole new level.
On 21 January, two F-16s were carrying out firing exercises, and the aircraft in question managed to catch up with its own 20-millimetre cannon rounds, damaging the fuselage and parts of the engine. No pilots were injured during this incident.
“The incident reflects why guns on a high-powered performance jet are perhaps a less than ideal weapon.” The Vulcan is able to fire 6,000 rounds a minute, but its magazines only hold 511 rounds, which is enough for five seconds of constant shooting. A pilot can accelerate and manoeuvre in such a way that they get hit by their own bullets.
The Dutch Air Force is currently replacing its F-16s with Lockheed F-35As, which have four-barrel General Dynamics GAU-22 Equalizers, with 25-millimetre cannons that can hold 182 rounds for two seconds of constant fire, hopefully providing less opportunities for ‘potentially deadly friendly fire’.
In about four hours, the city of Leeuwarden, Friesland will be welcoming two F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which will stay in the Netherlands for three weeks. The JSF is the successor to the F-16 (shown here), which has been flying in the country since 1979.
The Ministry of Defense says it’s time for the residents near the airfields of Leeuwarden and Volkel, Noord-Brabant to experience what they sound like because in 2019 the first bunch of F-35 will be coming to stay. According to the Ministry, it is the first time this type of aircraft has been flown from the United States to Europe, which is why Leeuwarden expects one or two thousand plane spotters from around Europe to come and watch the show.
For all of you who can’t make it, watch it live thanks to this handy stream brought to you by the Ministry of Defense:
On Friday, 20 April the Volkel airbase in Uden, Noord-Brabant will host a very special demonstration between a Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 and a Dutch Spyker Formule 1 car driven by Dutch race car driver Christijan Albers. Unfortunately, the event is invitation only. The Air Force hopes to recruit personel and the Spyker F1 team wants to be seen and heard. Once upon a time, back in 1915, Spyker had been in the business of building airplanes.
F-16 pilots were given the order to fly a minimum of three kilometers above the town of Dokkum in order not to disrupt a jubileum performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion in a local church. The local Cantarix choir had been practising for months and found out recently that the Air Force was scheduled to fly right over their church venue during their performance. The Royal Netherlands Air Force is currently stretching its wings for a mission in Afghanistan.