PARIS (AFP) -The F-16 fighter jet that crashed during a NATO exercise in Spain on Monday, killing 11, experienced a technical failure du-ring take-off and the two pilots tried to eject, the French air force said Thursday.
“What we know is that the crew of the F-16, quite quickly after take-off, 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 pre-paring for take-off, 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.