AT LEAST ten people were killed after a Greek F-16 fighter jet crashed into other planes on the ground during a Nato training exercise in south-eastern Spain yesterday, Spain’s Defence Ministry said.
Another 13 people were injured in the incident at the Los Llanos base, which sent flames and a plume of black smoke billowing into the air, the ministry said in a statement.
Seven people were in serious condition, one person was treated and released from hospital, while the conditions of the five others were not disclosed.
Most of the victims were not believed to be Spaniards but Nato staff from member countries that participated in the programme, according to a Defence Ministry official who refused to be identified because of ministry rules preventing him from being named.
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The two-seater jet was taking off but lost thrust and crashed into an area of the base where other planes involved in the Nato exercise were parked, the ministry said in a statement.
Another report from local media said one of the pilots performed a wrong manoeuvre during take-off, resulting in the death of both pilots.
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was “deeply saddened by the crash of a Greek fighter jet at the Los Llanos base in Spain”.
He did not specify their nationalities, but called the crash “a tragedy that affects the whole Nato family”.
The Spanish ministry said the jet that crashed was taking part in a training exercise called the Tactical Leadership Programme.
The ten Nato countries that participate in TLP are Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States.
Spain’s Defence Ministry did not immediately disclose the nationalities of those participating.
According to a US Air Force website, TLP was formed in 1978 by Nato’s Central Region air forces to advance their tactical capabilities and produce tactics, techniques and procedures that improve multi-national tactical air operations.
The first TLP course was located at Fuerstenfeldbruck Air Base, Germany.
It has been based at the Spanish base since June 2009.
The Los Llanos base is near the south-eastern Spanish city of Albacete, about a two-and-a-half hour drive from Madrid.