F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Two Belgian F-16s crashed - One pilot killed

December 9, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Two Belgian F-16s collided in mid-air during a Forward Air Controler exercise, killing one of the pilots. They crashed into the ground in the wooded area of Marche-en-Famenne in the Belgian Ardennes.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ronny Vaerten, BAF, killed in a mid-air collision between two F-16s on December 9th 2003.

The collision threw up a cloud of smoke visible kilometers away. Both jets crashed in an unpopulated area close to where they collided - one near the village of Somal and the other near Failon.

Lt-Col. Ronny Vaerten, an experienced 31 SQN instructor, could not eject and was found in the cockpit wreckage. The other pilot, Lt. Wouter Rombouts, safely ejected and was transfered to the university hospital at Luik with non life-threatening injuries.

The two F-16s (FA-93 & FA-122) took off from Kleine Brogel Air Base to participate in a Forward Air Controler exercise. It is presumed that the F-16s collided in mid-air.

Both pilots belong to the 31st SQN, which also lost one of their F-16s on April 2002, in a mid-air collision with an ULM in the Netherlands.

The number of Belgian Air Force F-16 crashes now stands at 34 from a total of 160 delivered (22%).

The ministry of defense is investigating the cause of the accident.

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