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Pilot ejects as F-16 crashes at Leeuwarden

A Belgian F-16 fighter jet crashed into a container park at the Dutch air force base in Leeuwarden (Friesland) this morning.  The pilot used his ejector seat and parachute to escape from the aircraft.  The pilot sustained light injuries.

A Belgian pilot lost control of the aircraft whilst preparing for take-off on the aircraft parking area after problems with the engine that resulted in the F-16 starting to roll.    The pilot ejected from the aircraft and sustained minor leg injuries and was hospitalised.  With no pilot on board the F-16 careered into an empty container park used for office space but there was only material damage. 

A second member of the Belgian deployment, a technician, was taken to hospital as a precaution.
Dutch emergency services attended the scene.  Belgium and the Netherlands have shared duties protecting Benelux airspace since 2017.  F-16s intercept aircraft that do not identify themselves. They are to be phased out at Leeuwarden and replaced by the more modern F-35s in due course.

The present incident happened during training. The pilot is on the Weapons Instructor Course in Leeuwarden.  The course that takes six months involves participants from Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway.  Five Belgian aircraft have been deployed as part of the course.  There are four Belgian instructors as well as a Belgian technical support crew.  Four Belgians are taking part in the course.



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