ISLAMABAD: A plume of smoke and fire are seen coming from an area after a Pakistani F-16 crashed during a rehearsal ahead of the Pakistan Day military parade yesterday. – AFP

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani F-16 fighter jet crashed in Islamabad yesterday, killing the pilot, during a rehearsal for a national day military parade, officials said. Footage on social media showed a plume of smoke billowing into the sky after the plane hit the ground having apparently attempted a loop. A Pakistani Air Force spokesman said the pilot, Wing Commander Nauman Akram, died in the crash. "Pakistan Air Force reports with regret that a PAF F-16 aircraft crashed near Shakarparian, Islamabad during the rehearsals of 23rd March parade," the air force said in a statement.

The rehearsals were for the annual military parade in Islamabad this month to celebrate Pakistan Day. The F-16 jets are among the most valuable hardware in the Pakistani military's arsenal and the country has a fleet of about 50 - each worth at least $40 million. Pakistan has a chequered military and civilian aviation safety record, with frequent plane and helicopter crashes over the years.

Yesterday's incident comes just months after a fighter jet crashed during a training mission near Mianwali in Punjab province, killing both pilots. In July last year at least 18 people were killed when a small army plane crashed in Rawalpindi.

And in 2016, a Pakistan International Airlines plane burst into flames after one of its two turboprop engines failed while flying from remote northern Pakistan to Islamabad, killing more than 40 people. Pakistan's powerful military consumes a large portion of the country's budget - spending millions on sophisticated hardware in the impoverished nation - which critics say has come at the expense of investment in other sectors. - AFP