A French Rafale seen partially damaged after a Greek F-16 crashed at a Spanish Air Base on Monday During a NATO training exercise.

A French Rafale seen partially damaged after a Greek F-16 crashed at a Spanish Air Base on Monday During a NATO training exercise.

Karim Toure

Ten people were killed and twenty one were injured Monday January 26th 2015 when a Greek Air Force F-16D crashed at a Spanish Air Force Base. The Los Llano Air Base located at Albacete in Central Spain was hosting NATO’s Tactical Leadership Program, a top training exercise attended by the Air Forces of 10 NATO member nations. The aircraft which reportedly was in its take off phase crashed onto other military jets parked at an adjoining section of the base. Picture of the accident showed a plume of smoke rising near parked fighter jets including a Tornado, a F-15 , Rafale and a F-16.

The fatalities consisted of the 2 Greek personnel operating the destroyed F-16 in addition to 8 ground personnel at the base.

The French newspaper Le Monde quoting one of its journalist Nathalie Guibert indicated that of the 10 people killed,  8 were French including one pilot, a first officer along with six mechanics most of whom were probably attached to Nancy Air Force Base. Also confirming Spain’s Defense Ministry reports, the French presidency announced that among the 21 injured, 6 were French while initial reports mentioned 10 French injured in addition to 11 Italian. While the French Defense minister Jean Yves Le Drian was planning to arrive at the Los Llano air base, Le Monde’s account of the fiery accident seem to point to the Greek F-16 striking parked French fighter jets, themselves being attended by ground crews prior to departure. In all, 2 Rafale, 2 Mirage 2000D and 2 Alpha Jets were said to have been struck by the Hellenic Air Force F-16.

The Air Force Times web site identified “10 NATO countries participating in the program (…) Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States”.

In fact NATO’s Tactical Leadership Program allowed participants to hone in on a variety of tactical skills critical to the implementation of  Air Combat doctrine. The two-weeks event which was first held in 1978 found a new home in Albacete Lo Llanos Air Base in 2009. The area provided adequate weather, air traffic clearance and practice area for a major multi national training exercise.

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