Two Italian military jets collided during a 19 August afternoon training flight, the country’s air force has confirmed.

A pair of twin-engined Panavia Tornados were “carrying out a training mission” when they collided and crashed, according to the air force’s official Twitter account. Reports say the aircraft were in the vicinity of Ascoli, in eastern Italy north of Rome.

Both aircraft were crewed by pilots and navigators, but Italian authorities have not confirmed their fate.

Rescue and reconnaissance aircraft were sent to the scene to conduct a search for the pilots, according to the air force.

Images of the collision show that the aircraft exploded on impact, sparking a forest fire on a hillside below. Firefighting helicopters were also sent to the scene to attempt to contain the blaze.

The Italian air force says the Tornados had taken off from its Ghedi air base. Flightglobal's MiliCAS database records the service as having had an active fleet of 78 of the aircraft before the accident, including 62 IDS strike examples and 16 in the electronic combat and reconnaissance configuration.