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6 Apr, 2019 22:22

Dutch F-16 fighter jet SHOT ITSELF with cannon during drills, probe reveals

Dutch F-16 fighter jet SHOT ITSELF with cannon during drills, probe reveals

A Dutch F-16 fighter jet somehow managed to shoot itself with its own autocannon during a military exercise this year, local media reports, citing investigators. The military is still not sure how exactly the incident happened.

The F-16 jet suffered “considerable damage” after getting hit by a projectile – which turned out to be its own ammunition, Dutch broadcaster NOS reported this week. The bizarre incident occurred in January and has been under investigation ever since.

A pair of the US-made fighter jets were training together and shooting ground targets with their six-barrel Vulcan autocannons. One of the machines was damaged during the exercise, but landed safely afterwards. Its pilot walked away from the incident unharmed.

A photo released by the investigators to Dutch media shows an apparent bullet hole and a dent in the plane’s port side, right below the canopy. Fragments of the ammunition had also reportedly damaged the aircraft’s engine. It is not yet clear how many bullets hit the plane, but at least one definitely left the mark.

How exactly the aircraft managed to get hit by its own bullet remains a mystery and is the subject of a further investigation – which will take an unspecified amount of time.

“It is a serious case. Therefore, we want to find out what happened and how we can prevent this in future.” Safety Inspector-General Wim Bargerbos said.

While some aircraft have, indeed, scored ‘own-shots due to faulty missiles and improperly detatching bombs, catching an ‘own bullet’ mid-flight is nearly impossible. There’s been basically only one well-documented incident before, and that, too, involved a US-made plane.

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Back in 1956, F-11 Tiger pilot Thomas Attridge managed to shoot himself down while test-firing 20-mm cannons of his aircraft. After shooting a burst, the pilot took a shallow dive – and caught up with his own munitions a minute later. The aircraft was badly damaged and crash-landed, while Attridge was injured. He returned into service after several months.

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