At least ten soldiers have died following the crash of a Hellenic Air Force’s (HAF) F-16 Fighting Falcon jet c at the Los Llanos base near Albacete, Spain.
The air craft crashed into another jet on the ground of the base yesterday (26 Hanuary) at 3:30pm lccal time.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was quoted by Telecinco as saying: "It appears that there are two people who died and who have Greek nationality, and eight French.
"It seems that there are numerous injured. The figure of ten French, and 11 Italians is being mentioned. It is still early."
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: "The plane was taking part in an exercise in the framework of Nato’s Tactical Leadership Programme, which aims to improve multinational cooperation in air operations."
The Spanish Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the fighter lost thrust after take-off and crashed into an area of the base where other aircraft participating in the exercise were parked.
According to media reports, the accident damaged at least five aircraft and several helicopters, in addition to killing both on board pilots, as well as other pilots and mechanics present in the parking area.
The French Defence Ministry confirmed to DefenseNews that the airbase was hosting aircraft from several countries at the time of the accident, including two Alpha Jets, two Mirage 2000D, and two Rafale fighters.
Tactical Leadership Programme (TPP) was formed in 1978 by Nato’s Central Region Air Forces. It aims to advance the participants’ tactical capabilities and produce tactics, techniques, and procedures that enhance multi-national tactical air operations.
In a statement seen earlier by CNN, the Spanish MoD note that the flight training course involves 750 participants, including pilots, ground crews and other support from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, the UK, and the US.
Scheduled to run from 19 January to 13 February, the four-week programme was training and preparing pilots for tactical missions, including night-time operations, the statement added.
Image: A F-16D Fighting Falcon aircraft of the Hellenic Air Force. Photo: courtesy of Jerry Gunner.