Pilot uses ejector seat as F-16 jet falters at Leeuwarden airbase
An F-16 fighter jet got into problems at Leeuwarden Airbase on Thursday morning. The jet encountered problems during takeoff and the pilot had to use the ejector seat, sources told broadcaster NOS. It is not known whether anyone was injured.
“On Thursday morning an incident took place with an F-16 fighter aircraft at Leeuwarden Air Base,” the Dutch Air Force confirmed. “We are currently assessing the situation, more information will follow as soon as more is known.”
The incident was first reported to emergency services at 9:22 a.m. and the situation was immediately raised to Grip 1, which means that all emergency services at the scene report to a single commanding officer.
Emergency services responded in large numbers, photos from local reporters show. An extinguisher was used to keep the plane wet, likely to prevent a fire or fuel damps from spreading.
"We were at the spotters hill at Marsum," a local plane spotter told Leeuwarder Courant. "Suddenly we heard a lot of noise. And at that moment I saw the tail of an F-16 rolling over the platform at a fairly high speed. A moment later a flame came out, probably because of that ejection seat."
There are reports that the plane involved is a Belgian F-16, which was in the Netherlands for an exercise. This has not yet been confirmed.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense could not give NOS a comment on the incident as of yet.
Leeuwarden has been the operating base for Dutch F-16s for decades. The fighter jets are nearing the end of their lifespan, as they make way for new F-35s. The F-16s will soon be stationed at the airbase in Volkel, where they will be used for a few more years.