Dutch F16 flying again after Russian bomber intercept
Residents in the Zuid-Holland province reported being startled by a loud blast Monday morning that turned out to be a sonic boom. The sound has been traced to an F16 fighter jet, which at 11 a.m. flew through the sound barrier.
Monday's military exercise comes in the wake of a weekend incident where Dutch F16s were twice called upon to intercept two Russian TU-95 bombers in violation of Netherlands airspace at 9:50 a.m. Saturday.
The sonic boom from Monday's flight was accompanied by a pressure wave which was felt at street level. Many people reported their that their windows trembled and that car alarms were spontaneously set off.
Some took to social media platform Twitter, wondering if there had been an explosion.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence has told AD reporters that the jet was part of a routine test flight over the North Sea. A combination of meteorological conditions led to the loud sound being heard on the ground, which are ordinarily not heard when a plane breaks the sound barrier. The fighter jet was flying at an estimated 1200 km/h, at more than twenty miles from the coast.
Monday morning's flight comes just two days of a Russian TU-95 bomber being intercepted and escorted from Dutch airspace by a pair of Dutch F-16 military jets.
Military spokesman Maj. Ter Horst has explained that this sequence of events isn’t uncommon, and is national procedure when aircraft infringe on Dutch airspace. He estimates that Dutch fighter jets intercept flights, whether they be from Russia or another country, about four or five times a year. "It is not unusual," Maj. Horst said. "Sometimes they cross Dutch airspace and sometimes they stay north of Dutch airspace”.
Increased awareness of Russian military exercises has been building since the breakdown in Netherlands-Russian relations over the past two years, which tumbled to a low point in the wake of a Malaysian Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine. The passenger jet is believed to have been shot down with a Russian-produced BUK surface-to-air missile, possibly in the hands of Russian separatists fighting against the Ukrainian military. Of the 298 people on the Boeing 777, 196 carried Dutch citizenship.
Over a year ago, protestors rallied in Amsterdam against Vladimir Putin, when the Russian president visited the city soon after his country announced a controversial ban on "homosexual propaganda." Relations between the two nations further broke down upon the arrest of Dutch Greenpeace activists attempting to block a Russian Arctic oil tanker, and sanctions placed against the import of Dutch dairy products into Russia.