A Belgian mechanic destroyed a multi-million dollar fighter jet after he accidentally fired a Vulcan cannon while carrying out repairs at an air force base.

The $30 million plane quickly caught fire and exploded, according to Belgian broadcaster RTL.

The mechanic was working with a colleague on two F-16s in a hangar near the control tower.

It is understood that the third jet, which they inadvertently destroyed after firing the cannon, was just out of their line of sight.


Both mechanics were injured during the incident, which occurred on Friday at the Florennes air base, 95km south of Brussels.

Boris Morenville, head of the Belgian defence trade union, said there was little doubt that the plane's demise was an accident, albeit a vastly expensive one.

"We may be thinking about human fault or technical failure, but in any case we have not yet been warned of an intentional act," he said.

Around 30 firefighters were called to the scene with ambulances and other emergency workers.

Colonel Didier Polome, the base commander, said he was relieved that only two people were injured when the plane exploded.

"You can't help thinking of what a disaster this could have been," he said.

Belgium's Federal Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) Aviation Safety Directorate are investigating the bizarre incident.