The federal prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into an explosion which destroyed an F-16 fighter plane at Florennes air base during the week. Meanwhile the hypothesis is gaining ground that the explosion may have been caused by test ammunition fired by accident from other plane which was being worked on nearby. Two technicians were slightly injured in the blast, suffering mainly hearing damage. They were treated on-site.
Two other F-16s were slightly damaged. Initial reports said only one other plane was involved, but those reports have been corrected by the prosecutor’s office.
The prosecutor’s office investigation, carried out by civilian magistrates, is being shadowed by a parallel investigation by the defence ministry’s own Aviation Safety Directorate. Neither party is prepared to comment on the friendly fire hypothesis, but some sources in the press have pointed out how much more catastrophic the accident could have been, at least for the technicians involved. As it was, the aircraft caught fire and was completely destroyed. The material damage alone will amount to millions of euros.
“Such an accident is practically impossible,” the base commandant Didier Polomé told the RTBF. “It seems likely to have been a combination of various circumstances which led to this result.”