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Thu, May 24, 2007

RAF Confirms Fleetwide MR-2 Nimrod Fuel Leaks

25 Discovered In Six Months

The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense confirms there were 25 fuel leaks in its MR-2 Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft fleet discovered between October 2006 and March 2007. A fuel leak was thought to be responsible for a Nimrod crash in which 14 servicemen perished last year, according to the BBC.

The MoD denies the leaks compromised safety as they were rectified under normal maintenance procedures. But, official figures show the 18-plane fleet, as a whole, had already flown more than 3,000 hours longer than they should have in the two years prior to the 2006 crash.

As ANN reported, the aircraft that crashed in September 2006 was supporting a NATO mission in the southern region of Khandahar. Earlier, NATO officials said the organization had launched a major offensive against known hideouts of Taliban insurgents in the area.

Abdul Manan, a witness in Chalaghor village, told the Associated Press the plane crashed about 100 yards from his home, and pieces of wreckage landed nearby. He reported seeing a small fire at the back of the plane before it hit the ground with a huge explosion that "shook the whole village."

A report from a military board of inquiry into the accident is expected later this year.

The Nimrod fleet was grounded in February as a precautionary measure after a dent in a fuel pipe on one of the aircraft was discovered during a routine safety check.

Moray Member of Parliament and defense spokesman Angus Robertson has voiced new concerns about the regular fuel leaks on the aircraft, as well as worries about air-to-air refueling, and has called for these issues to be addressed.

The Nimrod entered into RAF service 30 years ago, and was designed as a sea patrol and anti-submarine aircraft. They will be replaced eventually by the BAe MRA4, rebuilt and significantly updated variants of the current Mark 2 aircraft.

FMI: www.raf.mod.uk, www.mod.uk/defenceinternet/home

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