Crew onboard a Royal netherlands air force Lockheed Martin F-16A that made an emergency landing earlier this week appear to have had technical assistance from the manufacturer in Texas before deciding on a belly landing.

The ten-year old F-16 (P-198) lost its nose wheel during take off from Leeuwarden AB on 27 February and flew to burn off fuel before making a belly landing with all gear retracted. The aircraft flew for around 30min before the decision was taken to land with the gear down, shut the engine immediately after touch-down and brake moderately to keep directional control until the nose came down on the nose-gear strut.

However, the conversation between the pilot and military air traffic control (ATC) reveals that crew, callsign Polly 4, called Fort Worth, home to Lockheed Martin, in an attempt to rectify the problem. As Polly 4 is around 2nm (3km) away from Leeuwarden and cleared to land, ATC tells the pilot of a new plan of a gear-up landing, even though J-198 had a Northrop-Grumman AN/ALQ-131 electronic jamming pod attached.

Dutch aviation enthusiasts on the discussion forum Fence Check have provided a rough translation of the conversation, from 27min, which is available as an audio download here.

ATC: "Forth Worth doesn't know anymore, so go around."

Polly 4: "Kidding, or what?"

ATC: "No, not kidding."

Polly 4: "After that it's dark."

ATC: "Yeah, now they suggest you land with your gear up."

Polly4: "But what about the ALQ, I've got an ALQ on the centreline, I'll be landing on it?"

ATC: "We just mentioned that to them as well."

A further 2min of conversation takes place before Lockheed Martin confirms that landing on the strut might result in a nose loop, so a gear-up landing on the pod is the best option. At 28min the pilots says: "OK, so I'll be gently preparing myself, then" before bringing the aircraft down. The pod was damaged in the landing, but the F-16 is otherwise only lightly damaged (see below).

Dutch F-16 belly landing W445
© André Jans