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.