French NATO jet collides with Lithuanian air force

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 30, 2011 1:37 PM
French NATO jet collides with Lithuanian air force

VILNIUS (Reuters) - A French NATO jet collided with a Lithuanian training plane during an exercise on Tuesday, causing the Lithuanian plane to crash, the Defense Ministry said.

The Lithuanian pilots of the Czech-made L39 training plane, of which Lithuania has only two, ejected safely. A French embassy spokesman said the French Mirage jet landed safely.

The incident happened over the Siauliai airbase in northern Lithuania, where the NATO mission is based.

The Lithuanian plane crashed in a bog about 16 km from the base, a spokeswoman for the base said.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have been members of the NATO military alliance since 2004, but since none of the three Baltic states has a substantial air force, planes from other NATO nations patrol their skies. The French contingent is due to hand over to Denmark on September 2.

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Kevin Liffey)