A Greek F-16 jet has crashed during a NATO training exercise in Spain. At least 10 people have been confirmed dead and another 13 injured. The accident occurred at the Los Llanos base when the F-16 made a wrong maneuver and crashed into several grounded aircraft shortly after takeoff.

The collision created a massive fire and engulfed the area in smoke. Of the 13 people injured, seven are reportedly in serious condition. The victims are believed to be NATO staff members from various national backgrounds. Nine of the injured are Italian, while the 10 deceased consisted of personnel from Italy, Germany, France, Denmark, and Belgium.

Pentagon spokeswoman and Air Force Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman confirmed there were no US NATO members among the fatalities though a few were treated for minor injuries.

The two-seat F-16 crashed after losing thrust and collided into an area where several helicopters were parked. Both pilots are believed to be among the dead.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has also made a public announcement regarding the incident and issued the following statement:

“This is a tragedy which affects the whole NATO family. I express my heartfelt condolences to the loved ones and the nations of those who lost their lives, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured.”

According to the Spanish ministry, the jet was taking part in a NATO training exercise known as the Tactical Leadership Program. The program was formed in 1978 as a joint operation from 10 NATO countries. Its aim is to improve multi-national tactical air operations. TLP training was initially held at Fuerstenfeldbruck Air Base in Germany, though it has been conducted at the Spanish Los Llanos base since 2009.

This F-16 crash marks the second NATO-related accident in six months. Back in July, a Spanish fighter bomber pilot was killed when his aircraft exploded after takeoff during a joint Spanish-US military exercise.

[photo credit: keroyon]