F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Belgian Air Force grounds F-16 fleet due to engine problems

March 9, 2021 (by Lieven Dewitte) - All Belgian F-16s are currently grounded after an incident last month in which an F-16 experienced an engine problem taking off from Florennes They have halted all operations with the fleet to undertake urgent modifications to the engines.

BAF F-16s on the flightline at Florennes air base in early 2000. [Photo by Serge Van Heertum/S.B.A.P.]

All Belgian F-16s will remain on the ground until they have been inspected and if necessary also modified.

"The reason is an incident occurred on February 11, in which an F-16 in Florennes encountered engine problems during take-off," Belgian Defense stated in a press release. "The pilot made a controlled precautionary landing according to standard procedures. Research shows that several engines show similar deviations. The safety of the population and the crew is essential and we do not want to take any unnecessary risks."

Belgium has 54 F-16s still in service but all are kept on the ground for inspection. Apparently, the problem lies with part of the engine exhaust that has come loose. Now all other F-16s need to be checked to see if they show similar problems. It is currently being investigated whether other nations have the same problem.

The repair time is estimated at 5 working days per engine. However, there is a shortage on the market when it comes to spare parts.

Four Belgian F-16s are currently participating in operations in Jordan. Those aircraft will continue to fly for the time being as the engine problem doesn't seem that serious. Those jets will also be thoroughly checked as soon as possible.

In parallel with the investigation, all European participating Air Forces partners and the manufacturers were informed. Engine builder Pratt & Whitney, aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin, and the US Air Force indicated on the basis of this information to take immediate corrective action on the affected engines.

The Quick Reaction Alert over Belgian and Dutch airspace will remain operational.