Dutch F-16 mistakenly strafes range control tower. And it’s not the first time.

On Nov. 4, a Dutch F-16 strafed a control tower on Vlieland Island Vliehors shooting range by mistake. It was not the first time such incident occurred.

The plane was to attack a target located within the shooting range with its M61 Vulcan cannon but, in an unfortunate incident, the rounds hit a control tower, located 500 meters further. Fortunately the controllers in the tower were unharmed. The tower itself though did receive some damage.

The reason for the incident is unknown and a special commision will gather to investigate.

This is the second time that a friendly fire incident happened in Vliehors.

Back in 2001, a German Tornado did shoot at the control tower in very similar circumstances. Back in 1998, a Danish F-16 even sent a guided missile into the tower. Fortunately just one person was mildly injured.

No information on the RNlAF F-16 involved is available. The Dutch Vipers are stationed in Volkel and Leeuwarden bases. Since the latter one is undergoing some works, the local F-16s were relocated to the southern airbase.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image Credit: Jerzy Siminski

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About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.


  1. This happened to the school my kids attended, although it was after hours and only a janitor was present.
    “On November 4, 2004, at around 9pm, an F-16 Fighting Falcon jet from the 113th Wing of the District of Columbia Air National Guard, based at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on a training mission at the Warren Grove Bombing Range was climbing upward at 8,000 feet. The lead pilot was on an training ride, wherein he was upgrading to instructor pilot. A recent software change in the F-16 allowed the externally mounted targeting pod to stabilize on a spot on the earth when the avionics were in Air to Ground Mode, Strafe Sub-Mode. The pilot intended to fire a laser at proper strafe target, located on the range. The laser and gun share the same trigger. The pilot pulled the trigger, firing not only the laser but also the internal M61 Vulcan cannon, discharging 27 rounds of 20mm ammunition which then fell to the ground, with eight striking the school’s roof and the rest hitting the parking lot and the side of the building. A janitor, who saw holes in the ceiling and had heard something on the roof, contacted the police.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strafing_of_the_Little_Egg_Harbor_Intermediate_School

  2. 23 years loading, maintaining weapons and their associated systems-F-14, F-18 and now F-16. The gun trigger on the F-16 performs one function-it fires the gun and that is it. Lasing with the TP is performed with another switch. Of course the source material is Wikipedia and everything there is factual, ;)

  3. Dutch news writes the F-16 came from Volkel, so the picture is incorrect! F-16s from Leeuwarden are back at their homebase by now. Also the trigger does operate the laser so if wikipedia says it doesn’t it is incorrect.

    • The Picture relates generally to the Dutch F-16’s, not the one that struck the tower. I had an opportunity to see the airplane on the pic in Radom this year, so there it goes.

  4. How many incidents like this must happen until they finally agree to equip the poor tower with some means of returning fire?

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