A Pakistani fighter jet rehearsing for the nation’s national day parade crashed in Islamabad on Wednesday.
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) said in a statement that the pilot of the aircraft, Wing Commander Norman Akram, died when the plane crashed near a park in the capital city.
“Pakistan Air Force reports with regret that a PAF F-16 plane crashed near Shakarparian, Islamabad during the March 23 parade rehearsals,” the air force said in their statement. “Rescue teams were deployed toward the crash site.”
There were no ground-level casualties or property damage, the air force said. The President of Pakistan Afif Alvi expressed condolences to the pilot’s family.
Footage on social media and local television stations showed black smoke rising under overcast skies from a tree-filled region. One video appeared to show the plane coming out of a steep dive before going over a hill, then the jet engine’s roar ends in a thump followed by a fireball.
Wednesday’s crash came ahead of the March 23 National Day celebration which featured short-and long-range missiles, tanks, jets, drones and other military hardware last year.
The American-built F-16 jets are among the Pakistan Military’s most valuable defense hardware, which has a fleet of about 50 such jets worth at least $40 million each, reported Al Jazeera.
Pakistani authorities seldom release details of the relatively common military-training crashes. An FT-7 jet trainer went down in the eastern province of Punjab in January, killing the two pilots.
19 people died last July, most of them at home when a Pakistani military aircraft crashed into a residential area outside the Rawalpindi garrison town.