NATO: F-16 Fighters Damaged by Volcanic Ash

From the AP: A senior Western diplomat said Monday that several NATO F-16 fighters had flown through a cloud of volcanic ash and that that one had suffered engine damage.

The official, who could not be named under standing regulations, declined to provide further details on where or when the incident happened. He said only that glasslike deposits were found inside the plane’s engine after a patrol through European airspace.

But Bo Redeborn, an official of the European air traffic agency, said later that the F-16 belonged to the Belgian Air Force. …

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday that the ash cloud was not affecting the alliance’s military readiness, although he declined to comment on specific missions.

"I can assure you that Icelandic volcano does not have any effect on our operations, nor our territorial defense of the allied member states," he said. …

NATO officials said two of the alliance’s Boeing E-3A early warning planes were moved on Thursday from their base in Germany to an airfield in Italy, and were conducting regular patrols from there.  (photo: Aviation Week)

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