Review author Charles Haddon-Cave said "financial pressures and cuts" were to blame
An independent review into a fatal 2006 Nimrod crash, which killed 14 service personnel, has accused the MoD of sacrificing safety to cut costs.
The highly critical report, by Charles Haddon-Cave QC, said the Afghanistan crash occurred because of a "systemic breach" of the military covenant.
A safety review of the Nimrod MR2 carried out by the MoD, BAE Systems and QinetiQ was branded a "lamentable job".
Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth apologised to victims' families.
Fourteen crewmen, based at RAF Kinloss in Moray, died when the aircraft - XV230 - blew up after air-to-air refuelling over Afghanistan when leaking fuel made contact with a hot air pipe.
Graham Knight, whose son Ben died in the explosion, said his son and all the other servicemen "doing their job" in Afghanistan "a hundred per cent" had been let down by "those people who are behind them".
Joe Windall, whose son, also Joe, died on board the Nimrod, said the findings had been astonishing.
Caroline Wyatt, BBC defence correspondent
The Nimrod review is the most devastating attack on the MoD and the defence industry in living memory.
Its language is direct, its criticisms unsparing.
Charles Haddon-Cave describes "deep organisational trauma" at the MoD as resulting from the strategic defence review of 1998.
Internal promotion resulted not from being on top of safety but from being on top of a budget.
He recommends a host of solutions, including a new military airworthiness authority that is independent of the MoD.
However, the alarming insights offered by the Nimrod Review will lead many to wonder if if such whole-scale change to the culture can be achieved - not least at a time when financial pressures are even greater than they were in 1998.
"On behalf of the MoD and the Royal Air Force, I would like again to say sorry to all the families who lost loved ones," he said.
"I am sorry for the mistakes that have been made and the lives that have been lost as a result of our failure. Nothing I can say or do will bring these men back."
Mr Ainsworth said the MoD had already implemented measures to improve safety and airworthiness of the Nimrod fleet, insisting the department had not been "idle" while Mr Haddon-Cave's review was being carried out.
This included the ending of air-to-air refuelling.
The MoD has since admitted negligence in relation to the explosion.
BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said the review, which began in January, had a broad remit.
It has looked at the airworthiness of the Nimrod MR2 fleet since its introduction into service in 1979.
The 14 men killed on the Nimrod were:
Flt Lt Steven Johnson, 38, from Collingham, Nottinghamshire, Flt Lt Leigh Anthony Mitchelmore, 28, from Bournemouth, Dorset, Flt Lt Gareth Rodney Nicholas, 40, from Redruth, Cornwall, Flt Lt Allan James Squires, 39, from Clatterbridge, Merseyside and Flt Lt Steven Swarbrick, 28, from Liverpool.
Flt Sgt Gary Wayne Andrews, 48, from Tankerton, Kent, Flt Sgt Stephen Beattie, 42, from Dundee, Flt Sgt Gerard Martin Bell, 48, from Newport, Shropshire, and Flt Sgt Adrian Davies, 49, from Amersham, Buckinghamshire, Sgt Benjamin James Knight, 25, from Bridgwater, Sgt John Joseph Langton, 29,from Liverpool and Sgt Gary Paul Quilliam, 42, from Manchester.
L/Cpl Oliver Simon Dicketts, of the Parachute Regiment, from Wadhurst and Royal Marine Joseph David Windall, 22, from Hazlemere.
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