The F-16 fighter is equipped with a six-barrel 20mm gatling gun, not unlike a mini gun. It cranks out fire at the rate of 6000 rounds per minute (the fighters only carry about 500 rounds, though) and is devastating to anything it connects with. That includes the plane that fires those rounds.
As Ars Technica reports, a Dutch F-16 pilot on a training run just found out that it’s possible to catch up with your own cannon fire . . .
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.
If you’re wondering how that’s possible . . .
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.
Let’s be careful out there.