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Dutch F-16 crashed in Afghanistan - Pilot killed

August 31, 2006 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A Dutch pilot died today when his F-16 fighter jet crashed in southern Afghanistan. The plane went down around 7 a.m. after making a distress call, but did not report "enemy action," a NATO statement said.

Two fully armed Dutch F-16s on a mission over Afghanistan.

"The plane was flying at a great height when the accident occurred, which means it can be ruled out that the craft was shot down. We therefore assume it was an accident," the ministry said in a statement.

The F-16 (J-364) was early thursday morning returning from a planned mission to Helmand, a province south of Uruzgan where the Dutch are active.

The aircraft crashed in the province of Ghazni, north of where the Dutch are active. It came down from great height. According to Dutch Defence sources, the jet was out of reach of known weapons installations.

A second Dutch F-16 accompanying the unfortunate F-16, circled in the neighbourhood until rescue and recovery forces arrived.

An American rescueteam recovered the remains of the pilot and his aircraft. The location of the crash site was withheld for security reasons.

The 29-year-old pilot, identified as Kapitein-Vlieger Michael ‘Sofac’ Donkervoort by the Royal Netherlands Air Force, was the third Dutch soldier to die in Afghanistan. Two Dutch service members were among the dead in a helicopter crash in Paktia Province in July.

The Netherlands is a key contributor to a multinational force that took command of security operations in volatile southern Afghanistan from the coalition at the start of August, amid the deadliest upsurge in violence since the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001.

Canadian Maj. Gen. Angus Watt, head of the NATO force's air operations, said the death of the pilot - whose name was not made public - wasyet a tragic loss. "We will continue with the mission undeterred," he said.

In Memoriam
Additional images:

RNlAF F-16AM #J-364 coming in at Konya AB for attending the NATO Air Meet held there in September 2004. [Photo by Emin Fýndýklý]

RNlAF F-16A #J-364 equiped with centerline fuel tank, dummy Sidewinders, and an ACMI probe on finals [Photo by Robert Dahler]

Art work on RNlAF F-16A #J-364 ventral fin of 312 sqn at Florennes AB in November of 1995. [Photo by David Ireland]