Photos emerging on social networks seem to suggest the aircraft may have hit the flightline: two Italian Air Force AMX jets seem to be quite close to the burning wreckage of the Greek two-seater F-16D. However, more aircraft are believed to be involved, since several explosions were heard following the impact of the HAF fighter jet.
Screenshot from rtve.es website
Spanish media outlets have been issuing updates since the incident occurred around 3.00 PM LT: according to the latest reports, 2 people were killed and 10 injured as a consequence of the crash.
Update 18.30 GMT
10 casualties and 13 injured people, according to the latest reports from the crash scene. At least one French Alpha Jet seems to have been hit by the F-16D; U.S. F-15E aircraft appears to be parked close to wrecked Fighting Falcon.
According to the Italian MoD 9 Italian military injured in the Greek Air Force F-16D crash at Albacete in Spain. The Italian contingent taking part in TLP includes 2 AMX jets from 51° Stormo (Wing) of the Italian Air Force from Istrana airbase and 5 AV-8B+ Harrier II of the Italian Navy from Grottaglie airbase.
With their first participation to the BAP, Italy has become the very first nation to provide air policing tasks over four foreign airspaces: Iceland (on rotation), Slovenia, Albania (task shared with the Hellenic Air Force) and Baltic States.
The Italian Typhoons landed at Siauliai carrying 3 external fuel tanks, 3 IRIS-T and 4 AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles: an interesting, heavy, configuration.
Italian and Greek military and coast guard aircraft, helicopters and boats are battling strong winds and massive waves to rescue 478 people trapped on a burning ferry adrift between Italy and Albania.
A complex rescue mission is underway since early in the morning on Dec. 28, when fire broke out on a car deck of the Italian flagged “Norman Atlantic” ferry, travelling from Patras, Greece, to Ancona, Italy, with 478 people on board.
Italy and Greece dispatched helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft (including an Italian Coast Guard ATR-42MP and Hellenic C-130) to support the rescue mission that will go ahead until everyone aboard is evacuated from the ferry, adrift about 15 nautical miles from the Albanian coast.
Italian Air Force HH-139s, Italian Navy SH-212 and EH-101s helicopters are rescuing passengers from the ship and carrying them to the nearby ships or hospitals in southeastern Italy.
At 21.43 GMT, 287 people must still be evacuated. One of the passengers has been declared dead. Rescue operations are particularly difficult because of the high seas, darkness and amount of smoke coming from the ship.
Both the ferry and the nearby ships can be tracked by AIS (Automatic Identification System), an automatic tracking system used for identification and geo-localization of vessels that can be considered the naval homologous of the ADS-B used by airplanes and it is used for collision avoidance, search and rescue, and for aids to navigation.
Here below you can see the track followed by the Norman Atlantic until the present position (from MarineTraffic.com):
Here below you can see the position of the ferry at 21.39 GMT:
It looks like one of the supporting helicopters is also using broadcasting its flight data by means of AIS and can be tracked. Have a look at the path it has followed.
European Defense Agency has published a Statement according to which the Netherlands, Norway and Poland have expressed their will to start negotiations with the Airbus Defence & Space Company, regarding acquisition of the MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) aircraft.
As shown by the Air War in Libya in 2011, tankers are among the most important assets in any modern military air campaign. Several European air forces lack the (somehow basic) capability to project the air power by supporting their front line fighter jets and attack planes with aerial refuelers and, in light of the ever shrinking defense budgets, they are looking at the “pooling and sharing” principle to optimize resources.
Back in March 2012, Defense Ministries of these countries declared that they were willing to further develop the air-refueling capability among the European air forces. This initiative has also been endorsed by the European Council, which considers it to be one of the four key programs within the scope of operational capability development. What is interesting, more partner states are invited to participate in the program, further on the road, which means that they may join the initiative later on. Initial Operational Capability is expected to be obtained by 2019.
The Netherlands, along with Norway and Poland decided to use NSPA (NATO Support Agency) support and to ask OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement) for help within the scope of starting the relevant negotiations with the Airbus Defence & Space company.
According to altair.com.pl the negotiations do not mean that any agreement would be signed afterward. Indeed, the release published on the official website of the European Defense Agency states that “(…) engagement in further negotiations does not constitute a commitment by EDA, NSPA, OCCAR or the Participating nations to place an order either as a result of this dialogue or at a subsequent stage.”
Another important issue which should be noted is the fact that Airbus MRTT is not dedicated solely to refueling tasks, as it is also quite capable transport aircraft. The transport capabilities may be useful in case of strategic airlift or MEDEVAC (Medical Evacuation) operations.