Category Archives: Aviation Safety / Air Crashes

F-16 Completely Destroyed By Another F-16 After Mechanic Accidentally Fires Cannon On The Ground In Belgium

Bizarre F-16’s “ground-to-ground” kill injures two. It’s the second accidental aerial weapon discharge in Europe this year.

A Belgian Air Force F-16 has been destroyed and another aircraft damaged when the M61A1 Vulcan 20mm cannon on board a third F-16 was accidentally fired on the ground by maintenance personnel at Florennes Air Base in the Walloon area of Southern Belgium on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018.

Multiple reports indicate that a mechanic servicing the parked aircraft accidentally fired the six-barreled 20mm Vulcan cannon at close range to two other parked F-16s. Photos show one F-16AM completely destroyed on the ground at Florennes. Two maintenance personnel were reported injured and treated at the scene in the bizarre accident.

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.

Image credit: Tony Delvita

The airbase at Florennes is home to the Belgian 2nd Tactical Wing which comprises the 1st ‘Stingers’ Squadron and the 350th Squadron.

A report on F-16.net said that, “An F-16 (#FA-128) was completely destroyed while a second F-16 received collateral damage from the explosions. Two personnel were wounded and treated at the scene. Injuries sustained were mainly hearing related from the explosion.”

The news report published late Friday went on to say, “The F-16 was parked near a hangar when it was accidentally fired upon from another F-16 undergoing routine ground maintenance. Several detonations were heard and thick black smoke was seen for miles around. Civilian firefighters have even been called in to help firefighters at the airbase to contain the incident. About thirty men were deployed on site and several ambulances were dispatched. The Aviation Safety Directorate (ASD) is currently investigating the exact cause.”

The accident is quite weird: it’s not clear why the technician was working on an armed aircraft that close to the flight line. Not even the type of inspection or work has been unveiled. For sure it must have been a check that activated the gun even though the aircraft was on the ground: the use of the onboard weapons (including the gun) is usually blocked by a fail-safe switch when the aircraft has the gear down with the purpose of preventing similar accidents.

It is the second time this year an accidental discharge of live aircraft weapons has happened in Europe. On Aug. 7, 2018, a Spanish Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon accidentally launched an AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) while on an air policing mission near Otepää in Valga County, southern Estonia. The incident occurred only 50km from the Russian border.



A report ten days after the incident said the search for the missing weapon was called off. The missile was never located. “All the theoretical impact points of the missile have now been carefully searched,” said Commander of the Estonian Air Force Col. Riivo Valge in an EDF press release.

”Over the past two weeks, we employed three helicopters, five ground patrols and fifty-strong units of personnel to undertake the search on the ground. We also got help from the Rescue Board (Päästeamet) Explosive Ordnance Disposal Centre and used Air Force drones in the search,” Col. Valge added.

“Despite our systematic approach and actions the location of the impacted missile has not been identified and all probable locations have been ruled out as of now,” Col. Valge concluded in the August 17, 2018 media release ten days after the missile was accidentally fired.

Because strict weapons safety protocols, especially with live ammunition, are in place during ground handling it is extremely rare for maintenance personnel to accidentally discharge an aircraft’s weapon.

Top image: BAF via Scramble.nl

(Almost) All F-35 Joint Strike Fighters Grounded Worldwide Following September 28 Crash

Suspected Fuel Problem Results in Grounding of Joint Strike Fighter. Not all of them actually…

All Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters were ordered grounded on Thursday, October 12, 2018 for safety inspections of their fuel flow systems following the September 28, 2018 crash of a U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II in Beaufort, South Carolina. It was the first crash of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter since the worldwide program, the largest defense contract in history, began flying in 2006.

“The U.S. Services and international partners have temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations while the enterprise conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft,” the F-35 Joint Program Office announced in a statement Thursday morning.

The grounding of the F-35 fuels criticism of the program that has been under scrutiny from the start due to cost and program delays. The Joint Strike Fighter program has been characterized as the most expensive defense program in history. A Pentagon study claimed the entire program may exceed $1 trillion USD including maintenance for the entire fleet over its lifespan, not accounting for inflation.

Developed during the emergence of social media, the F-35 program has been a lightning rod for public criticism of defense spending. Recent analytics on TheAviationist.com’s Facebook page reveal that a September 28 story about the first F-35 crash attracted over ten times as many “Likes” than a previous story earlier that week about the first combat mission flown by the U.S. in an F-35. The analytics strongly suggest readers are more attracted to negative news about the F-35 than positive reports about the program.



The fleet-wide grounding of the aircraft is expected to be short-term according to a statement released today by the F-35 program office.

Actually, not all the F-35s have been eventually grounded.

“The Italian Air Force has already completed its inspections and, as it did not find the faulty part, is back to normal flight operations, according to two sources” Lara Seligman reported. Indeed, the Italian F-35A aircraft were reportedly flying today’s late afternoon, launching from Decimomannu, Sardinia, where they are currently deployed to undertake air-to-ground and CAS (Close Air Support) training.

Same for the British F-35B jets, involved in the flight trials from HMS Queen Elizabeth:

The Israeli have halted their operations with the F-35I Adir.

“If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced. If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status. Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.”

In its official statement on Thursday morning the program office went on to say the grounding of all F-35s worldwide, “is driven from initial data from the ongoing investigation of the F-35B that crashed in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina on 28 September. The aircraft mishap board is continuing its work and the U.S. Marine Corps will provide additional information when it becomes available.”

Top Image: file photo of U.S. F-35A Lightning II. All versions of the aircraft have been temporarily grounded according to official statements (Photo: Tom Demerly/TheAviationist.com.)

FLIR Footage Shows California Highway Patrol Chase Ending In Fatal Crash Into An F/A-18 at NAS Lemoore

Recently-released footage shows an unauthorized vehicle being pursued by California Highway Patrol inside Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, in 2016.

On the night of Mar. 30 – 31, 2016, a Jeep Grand Cherokee was able to intrude into NAS Lemoore where the vehicle, chased by California Highway Patrol vehicles crashed into the tail end of a parked F/A-18 Hornet jet.

The female passenger died at the scene, while the driver died at the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.

A CHP helicopter (“H40”, an Airbus AS350B3 – H125 – registration N975HP) chased the Jeep and filmed the whole scene using its FLIR camera. The footage is particularly interesting as it includes audio and flight data parameters, including the chopper altitude and speed, and also shows (at 05:52) a Hornet performing a touch and go.

You can hear from the radio comms that the helicopter aircrew are concerned of deconfliction with the Hornet in the traffic pattern. Then the Jeep enters the ramp where all the F/A-18s are parked, reaches the threshold of RWY32R before entering the taxiway that leads to the apron to the east of the runway. At 10:06 it hits the stabilizer of one of the Hornets parked there and comes to a stop in a field between the runway and the taxiway.

The H125 lands to take custody of the driver and coordinate ground units to the location.

The episode raised many questions, the most obvious of those is: how could a vehicle pass an armed U.S. Navy security checkpoint and then wander for several minutes inside an active airbase with flying activity in progress?

“What went wrong? Regardless of the security procedures, something went wrong,” said Cmdr. Monty Ashliman, the commanding officer of NAS Lemoore according to an article posted the day after the accident. “We have to figure out a way to prevent that from happening in the future. […] “There will be an intense effort to ensure that we not only take care of our assets and be good stewards of the tax payers dollars but that it’s absolutely safe before it goes flying again” he said.

Security protocols and procedures were updated after the review that followed the accident.



According to the report issued after the accident, hydraulic concrete barriers that raise up from the ground to stop such incursions were deployed only after the Jeep had already passed through. Moreover, the investigation highlighted that CHP officials were unable to notify NAS Lemoore personnel about the pursuit because they were calling an active number that had been provided to them for the base but it “was associated with an NASL building that had been demolished approximately 10 years prior.” Attempts to call on a back up number failed as well. The most concerning part of the report is that sailors at the “checkpoint didn’t know about the SUV until a CHP officer tracking the SUV drove up to the checkpoint booth and informed them.”

Contact between the NASL Regional Dispatch Center and CHP dispatchers was established only “six minutes after the Jeep Grand Cherokee hit the F-18 Hornet.” Furthermore, the report highlighted that the internal mobile radio system used by personnel at NAS Lemoore was not compatible with the equipment in use with the local law enforcement.

The conclusion of the U.S. Navy report recommended that NASL should maintain an updated phone contact list with “all federal, state and local law enforcement entities” and periodically test for two-way communications to verify accuracy, The Hanford Sentinel reported.

There might have been further security changes following the accident, but these have not been made public.

The extent of the damage to the Hornet is also unknown.

H/T David Ljung for sending this over

Watch This: Ukrainian Air Force Su-24M Fencer Insane Low Pass

You can’t fly lower than this….

We have already posted quite a few videos of Ukrainian Air Force aircraft performing ultra-low level passes. The most famous ones are those of a MiG-29 performing a show of force onpro-Russia separatist blocking rails; a big Ilyushin Il-76 buzzing some Su-25s (and the Frogfoots returning the favor while buzzing the tower); a Su-25 flying low over the heads of a group of female soldiers posing for a photograph and then performing an aileron roll; a Su-27 Flanker performing a low pass right after take off; and a Su-24MR tactical reconnaissance aircraft flying low over the flight line at Starokostiantyniv.

The latest footage is really impressive. It shows what is probably a Su-24M Fencer, a supersonic, all-weather,  twin-engined, two-seater plane with a variable geometry wing, designed to perform ultra low level strike missions developed in the Soviet Union and serving, among the others, with the Syrian, Iranian and Libyan Air Force buzzing the flight line at an airbase in Ukraine, probably once again “Staro”, where the Fencers of the 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade are based.

Although Ukrainian Air Force pilots regularly fly at low altitude, this time the Su-24 appears to be lower than comfortable for the camera man, missing the other Fencers on the apron by a matter of a few meters (or maybe centimeters…).

Anyway, here’s the footage for you to judge:



H/T MilitaryAviation.in.UA

USMC F-35B Lightning Crashes Near MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina: Pilot Ejects.

Details of First-Ever F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Crash Are Developing.

A U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter has crashed near Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station outside of Beaufort, South Carolina on the U.S. East Coast. Reports indicate the pilot ejected from the aircraft. His condition is not known at this time.

MCAS Beaufort is home to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501), the “Warlords”. The unit is a training squadron equipped with 20 F-35B Lightning II aircraft and serves as the Fleet Replacement Squadron.

This first-ever crash of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter comes only one day after a U.S. Marine F-35B flew its first operational combat mission over Afghanistan.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Update 17.55 GMT

Update 18.48 GMT

Video filmed at the crash site: