NATO jet crash in Spain due to takeoff failure: French military
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
A Greek F-16 fighter plane crashed during NATO training at the Albacete air base in Albacete in this still image from a Jan. 26. REUTERS PhotoThe F-16 fighter jet that crashed during a NATO exercise in Spain on Monday, killing 11, experienced a technical failure during takeoff and the two pilots tried to eject, the French air force said on Jan. 29.
"What we know is that the crew of the F-16, quite quickly after takeoff, tried to eject, which confirms the technical failure," said General Denis Mercier, the French air force chief of staff, without giving details of the breakdown.
Nine French and two Greek personnel died and about 20 people were injured after the two-seater F-16, owned by Greece, crashed into parked aircraft at the Los Llanos base in southeastern Spain.
Mercier called the accident "absolutely improbable", adding that the F-16 came down "just in the spot where we had planes preparing for takeoff, so there was a lot of petrol around."
"It was a series of unfortunate incidents," he said.
The base, near the city of Albacete, hosts elite exercises run by NATO to train military personnel from 10 nations to carry out joint manoeuvres.
It was the highest death toll in a single day for the French armed forces since an ambush in Afghanistan in which 10 died in 2008.
Nine French personnel and 11 Italians were also injured.
The F-16 hit two Italian AMX planes and three French jets -- a Mirage 2000 and two Alfa Jets -- when it crashed.