25 November, 2006


The Sunday Times highlights safety concerns about the RAF's ageing fleet of Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft. In September, 14 service personnel were killed when a Nimrod crashed after a fuel pipe ruptured during mid-air refuelling. Earlier this month, the ST reports, a similar accident nearly caused another tragedy and the aircrews are not happy:

It is understood RAF crews were worried about the decision to allow the Nimrods to resume flying three days after the Afghan crash. A number of servicemen resigned after the crash and before the latest incident.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed last week that as a result of the second incident all mid-air refuelling has been suspended, severely curtailing operations by Nimrods, which overfly Iraq and Afghanistan from an RAF base in Oman.
icWales has been talking to Jimmy Jones, a former RAF flight trials engineer, who was the first to test the aircraft when it originally came into service. Mr Jones points out that the Nimrod was never operationally tested in a Middle East environment and neither was it designed for in-flight refuelling. Worrying reading, not made any less so by the article's bland assurances from the Ministry of Defence.

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