The two-seater Greek F-16 fighter jet attempted to take off during a Nato military exercise at around 3:30pm (local time) at the Los Llanos base, in Albacete, but lost thrust and crashed into a hangar – triggering a large fire.
The plane crashed in an area where French Mirage and Italian Alpha Jets were parked and preparing to join the Tactical Leadership Program (TLP) training exercise.
A further 21 people -10 French people, 11 Italians – were injured in the incident at the base used by Nato to train pilots and crews from member states..
Emergency crews were not immediately allowed on the scene amid fears fuel tanks inside parked aircrafts could explode, but are now working to douse the blaze as black plumes of smoke filled the air.
At least five jets were damaged and the Italian statement said “numerous” helicopters were damaged.
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, which has caused many casualties.”
He did not specify their nationalities in a statement, but called the crash “a tragedy that affects the whole NATO family.”