Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

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....

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Oops...

(good that the pilot is OK)

#1 | Posted by LampLighter at 2019-04-10 11:37 AM | Reply


From the article...

...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....

#2 | Posted by LampLighter at 2019-04-10 11:39 AM | Reply

I was told as a kid this is why the SR-71 didn't have machine guns. I was too young to understand the true mission of the spy plane, but understood that it was really really fast; so fast it couldn't use machine guns or it would fly right into its own bullets.

#3 | Posted by rstybeach11 at 2019-04-10 12:53 PM | Reply

This is really hard to do, exit velocity on a Vulcan round is about Mach 3 (2,300 mph or 2000 knots). A F-16 maxes out on burners at Mach 2 at 40,000 ft and at about 1.6 at sea level, so he would have had to fire at the same time he hit his afterburners and follow his rounds for more than 4-5 seconds for his engine to eat a round. Most pilots are trained to pull up or away after firing your cannon.

Definitely possible, but this is more a lack of training than it is some type of malfunction on an airframe that has succeeded in not shooting itself down for 40+ years.

#4 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-04-10 01:16 PM | Reply

#3

That is correct, the SR-71 maxed out at Mach 3.5, so a Vulcan round encountering air resistance would hit the airframe almost immediately.

#5 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-04-10 01:17 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1


@#4 ... This is really hard to do, exit velocity on a Vulcan round is about Mach 3 (2,300 mph or 2000 knots). ...

Easier than you think.

As the article states, once fired, the bullets start slowing down immediately while the plane does not.


... more a lack of training ...

Or just a maneuvering mistake.

As the article states, "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...."

#6 | Posted by LampLighter at 2019-04-10 01:24 PM | Reply

#6

The article doesn't tell the whole story, if the F-16 was on afterburner then the initial exit velocity is Mach 3 + Mach 1.5, so the pilot should have been okay, especially if he was firing at the ground because he needs to pull up almost immediately and gravity also draws the rounds down almost immediately. For this to happen (according to my flight instructors, technical data and personal experience) you have to have a simultaneous firing and acceleration event (i.e. hitting your afterburners right after firing) to make up the delta.

#7 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-04-10 01:30 PM | Reply

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying it didn't happen, but it was more of a fluke than anything else.

#8 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-04-10 01:32 PM | Reply


@#8 ... it was more of a fluke than anything else. ...

"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...."

#9 | Posted by LampLighter at 2019-04-10 01:39 PM | Reply

Which is exactly what I said in #4. Having flown an F-16, I know that this would be extremely difficult to do intentionally or by accident.

#10 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-04-10 01:43 PM | Reply

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@#10 ... Which is exactly what I said in #4. ...

I was agreeing with you, and merely pointing out those words from the article, and in my summary in #2.

:)

#11 | Posted by LampLighter at 2019-04-10 02:06 PM | Reply

It's a damn good thing that the A-10 Warhog lacks the capability to fly into its own bullets.

#12 | Posted by JeffJ at 2019-04-10 02:48 PM | Reply

I guess it could go full vertical and shoot them straight up in the air...

#13 | Posted by JeffJ at 2019-04-10 02:49 PM | Reply

#10 I know in the past you've mentioned flying Super Hornets. Now a Falcon? What else have you flown?

I was watching a YouTube video recently of a Blue Angels ridealong and was struck by the visibility out of the canopy (what I could see).

It didn't look like you could see much of the plane itself at all. Must be one hell of a sensation flying with that level of visibility.

#14 | Posted by jpw at 2019-04-10 06:31 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

#14

I primarily flew F/A 18A and Cs but was checked out in a USN F-16 during OpFor exercises out of Nellis and have "flown" as a GIB in a USN F-15 twice. The Viper (the Flying Falcon's nickname) is pretty easy to fly, which is why it has long been a favorite of other air forces, it is also much easier to maintain than most other Gen 3 fighters.

Visibility in the Viper was much better than the Hornet, but the Hornet was and is a far superior airframe.

#15 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-04-10 07:41 PM | Reply

And to correct the record, so to speak, the Super Hornet (F/A 18E/F) came out after I left the Corps, I would have loved to fly one of those. I have sat in, but not flown one.

#16 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-04-10 07:44 PM | Reply

It's a damn good thing that the A-10 Warhog lacks the capability to fly into its own bullets.

Speaking of planes that I am jealous I never flew, that would be so fun to be thundering over the ground just above g/e with all that armor and a GAU-8.

I saw one of those after the first couple of days of Gulf I that had taken a beating from ground fire and it was amazing it stayed in the air.

#17 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-04-10 08:03 PM | Reply

That kind of crop duster flying scares me too much. You could hit power lines.

#18 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-04-10 08:41 PM | Reply

Or a ski lift.

#19 | Posted by REDIAL at 2019-04-10 08:43 PM | Reply

And to correct the record, so to speak, the Super Hornet (F/A 18E/F) came out after I left the Corps, I would have loved to fly one of those.

Oops my bad. That's what I get for trying to name drop LOL.

#20 | Posted by jpw at 2019-04-10 11:53 PM | Reply

#20

No worries, my wife does that all the time and if I am around pilots I have to make sure that is clear, since they really are different airplanes regardless of the designation.

#21 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-04-11 01:25 AM | Reply

They could have prevented this if, when they were doing their initial development testing, they defrosted the chickens.

#22 | Posted by Petrous at 2019-04-11 01:13 PM | Reply

That is cool, RightoCenter!

The only airframes I've ever been in were the UH-60 Mike model and a Chinook. But since my company was stationed on the flight Line, I got to see the Warthogs taking off all the time, as well as the F-16's. I loved how after take off, once you got very high altitude, the after burner cut off and you would disappear in the sky, especially at night.

#23 | Posted by boaz at 2019-04-12 12:50 PM | Reply

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