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Dutch F-16 flies into its own bullets

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He is gonna hear about this forever and ever....... Fellow pilots are probably already thinking up a new callsign for him.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/04/dutch-f-16-takes-cannon-fire-from-itself/

Quote

 

The Netherlands’ Defense Safety Inspection Agency (Inspectie Veiligheid Defensie) is investigating an incident during a January military exercise in which a Dutch Air Force F-16 was damaged by live fire from a 20-millimeter cannon—its own 20-millimeter cannon. At least one round fired from the aircraft’s M61A1 Vulcan Gatling gun struck the aircraft as it fired at targets on the Dutch military’s Vliehors range on the island of Vlieland, according to a report from the Netherlands’ NOS news service.

Two F-16s were conducting firing exercises on January 21. It appears that the damaged aircraft actually caught up with the 20mm rounds it fired as it pulled out of its firing run. At least one of them struck the side of the F-16’s fuselage, and parts of a round were ingested by the aircraft’s engine. The F-16’s pilot managed to land the aircraft safely at Leeuwarden Air Base.

The incident reflects why guns on a high-performance jet are perhaps a less than ideal weapon. The Vulcan is capable of firing over 6,000 shots per minute, but its magazine carries only 511 rounds—just enough for five seconds of fury. The rounds have a muzzle velocity of 3,450 feet per second (1050 meters per second). That is speed boosted initially by the aircraft itself, but atmospheric drag slows the shells down eventually. And if a pilot accelerates and maneuvers in the wrong way after firing the cannon, the aircraft could be unexpectedly reunited with its recently departed rounds.

As Popular Mechanics’ Kyle Mizokami reported in 2017, this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. During flight testing in 1956, a Grumman F-11 Tiger flying from Grumman’s test facility in Riverhead, New York fired a burst from four 20mm cannons toward the Atlantic Ocean. The pilot then entered a steeper dive, kicked in the jet’s afterburners, and went supersonic—when suddenly the windshield blew in and the engine failed. The pilot had caught up with the shells and in the process shot himself down.

Inspectie Veiligheid Defensie Inspector General Wim Bargerbos told NOS that this latest F-16 incident is “a serious case...we therefore want to find out what happened and how we can prevent this in the future.”

Meanwhile, the Dutch Air Force is in the process of replacing the F-16 with the Lockheed F-35A; eight are scheduled to be delivered in 2019. The F-35A carries the four-barrel General Dynamics GAU-22 Equalizer, a 25mm cannon that carries a mere 182 rounds in its magazine—so about two seconds worth of shells. That might make for fewer opportunities for a self-kill.

 

 

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Interesting.  I guess it is possible to go faster than the speed of light, lol.  Good that it landed safely.  But it must show that you cannot bring an F-16 to a gunfight?

John

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Having that happen to you would definitely put the 'eff!' in F-16. 🤣

 

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I note that the F35 only has 182 rounds. Comparable to the 150 rounds of 30mm carried by an Su35 Flanker. IMHO cannon are still useful when misslies are gone and stealth capability has been bypassed by virture of closing to visual range (not entirely impossible). A fighter which can thrust vector its nose and hence its cannon to anywhere it wants to is still a potent gunfighter.

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Fighters without guns was attempted in Vietnam and was quickly corrected. Missiles can't do everything. 

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To be fair, much of what led to the failure of missiles in the US Vietnam War, was not that the missiles were completely ineffective, although they were certainly not as sophisticated as they are these days, it was the fact that the US rules of engagement for their use had required visual confirmation before they could be fired. This was very stupid, particularly with the semi-active AIM-7 Sparrow missile, since the whole point of it was that it was a BVR (beyond visual range) weapon and not suited to use in close-in dogfights. That left the first F-4 Phantoms effectively p*ssing away the combat advantage they had, since they were designed to be an interceptor for CAPs using their powerful radar and those Sparrows to knock out threats rather than a pure dogfighter.

This sort of thing, which occurred in several arenas of that war, is why many US Vietnam War veterans complained that they were being asked to fight with one hand tied behind their backs.

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On ‎4‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 6:16 PM, Chock said:

To be fair, much of what led to the failure of missiles in the US Vietnam War, was not that the missiles were completely ineffective, although they were certainly not as sophisticated as they are these days, it was the fact that the US rules of engagement for their use had required visual confirmation before they could be fired. This was very stupid, particularly with the semi-active AIM-7 Sparrow missile, since the whole point of it was that it was a BVR (beyond visual range) weapon and not suited to use in close-in dogfights. That left the first F-4 Phantoms effectively p*ssing away the combat advantage they had, since they were designed to be an interceptor for CAPs using their powerful radar and those Sparrows to knock out threats rather than a pure dogfighter.

This sort of thing, which occurred in several arenas of that war, is why many US Vietnam War veterans complained that they were being asked to fight with one hand tied behind their backs.

It wasn't missile failure alone though. There were situations where pilots were unexpectedly ambushed, and where they found themselves in a close up dogfight where they were too close for even reliable missiles to work effectively. Both the newest gen AIM-9X and the AIM-9M have close up deadzones where firing a missile simply won't work since it won't have time to arm and guide. A gun however can be used in such situations.

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