One pilot has been killed and another managed to parachute to safety after two unarmed German fighter jets collided over north-east Germany.
The pilot of a third plane who witnessed the accident said parachutes had been ejected from both Eurofighter Typhoons after they collided in midair during an air combat exercise.
One of the Eurofighters went down in a forest while the other crashed near a village about 10 kilometres away.
One pilot was later rescued after being found dangling from the top of a tree. The other was found dead on the ground on Monday.
Defence Minister Ursula Von Der Leyen said the Eurofighters collided about 20 minutes after they took off.
“This is a sad day for our air force,” she said near the crash site in the eastern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
“We lost a soldier in a flight accident. Our thoughts are with his family and his comrades.”
The mayor of Nossentiner Hutte, Birgit Kurth, told Germany’s NDR radio station she was “relieved” that one pilot had survived and that his plane had not come down in the village or caused any further damage.
The BBC reports that police had earlier warned that debris from the crash had been strewn over a large area and could be dangerous.
Ostseewelle radio, which first reported the crash, posted a video sent in by a listener that showed two plumes of smoke rising from separate crash sites some distance apart.
It described a field of debris around the area of the crash, which it said had ignited a small forest fire.
An armed forces spokesman said it was too early to say anything about the circumstances of the crash. Recovery teams were searching for the black box flight recorders.
The pilots were from a battalion based at Laage air force base near Rostock, from where the aircraft took off. The base trains all pilots flying Germany’s 140 Eurofighters.
They were the first two of the jets that Germany has lost since it started flying them in 2004.
About 400 Eurofighters – made by a consortium of Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo – are in service around the world.
– with AAP