02 Sep 2006
The plane was a Nimrod MR2.
Fourteen British service personnel have
died after their aircraft crashed in Afghanistan, the MoD has said.
Twelve RAF personnel, a Royal Marine and an Army soldier were on
board the RAF Nimrod MR2 which came down in the southern province of
The reconnaissance jet belonged to the Nato-led force battling the
Taleban. The Taleban claim to have downed the aircraft with a
shoulder-launched Stinger missile. The Taleban are suspected to have
remaining stocks of those missiles that were provided to the
Mujahideen by the CIA during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
They proved quite effective against Soviet era fighters and
However ModUK officials said the crash appeared to be an accident.
Tony Blair said it would "distress the whole country" but the
mission in Afghanistan was "vital".
The prime minister said: "Our thoughts go out immediately to the
families of those who have died.
"British forces are engaged in a vital mission in Afghanistan and
this terrible event starkly reminds us of the risk that they face
UK Defence Secretary Des Browne said: "This is dreadful and shocking
news. I know that the people of Britain will join me in sending our
deep condolences to the loved ones of those who have lost their
"At this stage all the indications are that this was a terrible
accident and not the result of hostile action."
Nato forces say the plane was supporting the Nato mission in the
The pilot is believed to have radioed ground staff about a technical
fault shortly before the aircraft came down. The aircraft is known
to carry a range of pyrotechnics and munitions related to self-defence
and maritime operations....including decoy flares fired from tubes
at the rear, designed to deter infra-red shoulder-fired missiles.
The MR2 crews are usually based at RAF
Kinloss in Scotland but the MoD has not confirmed where the crashed
aircraft was from. The last RAF Nimrod crash took place 11 years ago
to the day when seven crew from Kinloss died at an air show near
Toronto, Canada. The incident was blamed on pilot error. The crash
brings the death toll of UK forces personnel in Afghanistan to 36
since the start of operations in November 2001.
Crash implications probed [MPs and experts respond]
The defence analyst, Major Charles Heyman, told BBC News 24: "It's a
black day. It's a disaster for our soldiers on the ground in
Afghanistan. "No other words can describe it. It's a big hit to
morale. Believe me it really does affect morale."
AFGHAN AIR CRASHES
31 August 2006
- Dutch F-16
fighter pilot dies in crash in south of country
27 July 2006
- 16 people of
multiple nationalities die in helicopter crash in south
6 May 2006
- 10 US
soldiers die in helicopter crash in Kunar province
24 April 2006
- Five die when US anti-drugs plane crashes in southern
Civilian cargo jet from Bagram crashes killing eight
2005 - Five US
soldiers die in Chinook crash in Zabul province
16 August 2005
- 17 Spanish
soldiers die when a Cougar helicopter crashes near Herat
28 June 2005
- 16 US soldiers die in Chinook crash in Kunar province
6 April 2005
- 15 US soldiers and three civilian contractors die in
helicopter crash in Ghazni province
- Ten British
armed personnel were killed when a Hercules C130K was
shot down north-west of Baghdad.
Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan,
Brigadier Ed Butler, said recent loss of life has caused "profound
personal devastation for families, friends and colleagues".
But he paid tribute to the "quite remarkable" resilience and morale
of British service personnel.
"I am personally humbled by their courage and commitment in getting
on with the tough job in hand; delivering over and above, and making
a difference to the ordinary people of Afghanistan," he said.
BBC defence correspondent, Paul Wood, told BBC News 24, said the
plane could have been supporting an operation in a place called
Panjwayi - west of Kandahar.
"It's a town - which has been in Taleban hands - which has been
forced back into coalition hands by a big push, still continuing
Conservative Party leader David Cameron, who said he was "deeply
shocked and saddened" by the accident, has sent his condolences to
the friends and families of those killed.
"Today's tragic loss is a reminder of the extraordinarily difficult
conditions in which our armed forces are operating in Afghanistan,"
A special helpline is available on 08457 800
900 for families concerned about relatives.
Afghanistan is experiencing its bloodiest period since the fall of
the Taleban in 2001, with much of the fighting concentrated in the
The crash comes as Afghan and Nato troops began a major anti-Taleban
drive in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar which has seen months of
The plane came down about 20 km (12 miles)
west of the city of Kandahar, Maj Scott Lundy of the International
Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said.
There was no indication of an enemy attack on the plane, which was
not a fighter jet.
It was "supporting" a Nato ISAF Force mission with communications
intercepts. It disappeared from radar and crashed in an open area 12
mls West of Kandahar", he said.
The crash is thought to be the biggest single loss of British troops
in Iraq or Afghanistan since military operations began there in