Seven crew killed in helicopter crash

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Six more British servicemen and an American officer died in the Gulf today after two Royal Navy Sea King helicopters collided over international waters.

Six more British servicemen and an American officer died in the Gulf today after two Royal Navy Sea King helicopters collided over international waters.

The Sea King Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft went down at around 4.30am local time (1.30am GMT), a day after eight British commandos and four US crew died when a US Marine CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed in northern Kuwait.

Neither crash was the result of enemy action.

Group Captain Al Lockwood, a UK spokesman at the Allied command centre in Qatar, confirmed all seven people on the two early warning helicopters had perished.

He said: "I have just had a report that all those on the helicopters have perished. Circumstances are such that accidents of this type can happen. It's a great tragedy.

"Certainly there must have been extenuating circumstances and our investigators are into the process of trying to establish the facts.

"Circumstances are still unclear. An investigation is under way and obviously, it will take some time to ascertain what happened.

"But we are doing our utmost to establish very, very quickly what the implications could be and what caused the accident itself."

He added: "Our thoughts are very much with their fellow comrades-in-arms, their families and their friends."

Sea King helicopters are among the most recognisable aircraft in the world and are usually associated with search and rescue operations.

These distinctive aircraft, with their long, bright-yellow fuselage, operate from RAF bases such as Lossiemouth in Scotland and Boulmer in Northumberland.

Flying low over Britain's coastline at speeds of up to 140mph, they have played a key role in locating missing people both on land and at sea.

But the helicopters that collided over the Gulf were Royal Navy-operated Mk7 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Sea Kings that fulfil an entirely different role.

Following the Falklands conflict in 1982, military commanders decided that AEW, or Airborne Surveillance and Area Control (ASAC) as it is now called, was an essential part of air power at sea.

Sea Kings were chosen for the job and provide vital tactical control to the Sea Harrier "Jump Jets" and other planes based on British aircraft carriers.

Comments