A mechanic with the Belgian air force was servicing an aircraft when he accidentally opened fire on another F-16 jet fighter sitting on the tarmac, destroying it, local media reported this week.
The incident occurred on Belgium’s Florennes air force base Thursday, according to multiple media reports.
Scramble, a Dutch aviation magazine, posted pictures of what appears to be the burned out aircraft Friday. The Belgian air force confirmed the aircraft was burned to a husk, but did not confirm how the fire was started.
Scramble reported that the accident was caused by the negligent discharge of the six-barrel 20 mm Vulcan M61A-1 cannon on another F-16.
“Apparently, the cannon was loaded,” Scramble wrote under the caption for one of the photographs.
“This aircraft had just been refueled and prepared together with another F-16 for an upcoming afternoon sortie. After impact of the 20mm bullets, [it] exploded instantly and damaged two other F-16s," according to Scramble. "Thankfully nobody got killed, only one technician incurred hearing impairment.”
The Belgian air force’s official Twitter account confirmed that a fire did indeed break out on the base during maintenance Thursday, burning one plane and causing damage to another.
The Belgian air force did not list the cause as that of cannon fire.
The Belgian Aviation Safety Directorate has started an investigation into the incident, base officials said in an interview with national public broadcaster VRT.
“You can’t help thinking of what a disaster this could have been,” said Belgian air force Col. Didier Polome in an interview with VRT, according to Reuters.
The Belgian air force has some 54 F-16s left now, according to Scramble.
The Belgian armed forces confirmed in a statement that two mechanics were treated for hearing loss caused by the blast.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.