Saturday, May 24, 2008

British coroner investigating deadly 2006 military crash in Afghanistan says Nimrod spyplanes were never airworthy

May 23, 2008

LONDON – A British coroner investigating the deaths of 14 military personnel in a 2006 plane crash in Afghanistan said Friday that the Nimrod spy planes were never airworthy.

Fourteen servicemen died when a Nimrod MR2 on an intelligence-gathering mission exploded following air-to-air refueling near Kandahar, Afghanistan, in September 2006.

The crash killed 12 crew members, a Royal Marine and an army soldier – the British military's biggest loss of life in a single incident since the 1982 Falklands War.

The plane was part of a fleet of 15 aging Nimrod MR2 aircraft originally due to go out of service a decade ago. The planes had suffered a series of fuel leaks and other mechanical problems but has served as surveillance aircraft operating over land, particularly in Afghanistan.

β€œThe aircraft was never airworthy from the first release to service in 1969,” said Coroner Andrew Walker, who is holding an inquest into the military deaths.