Page last updated at 09:18 GMT, Wednesday, 26 April 2006 10:18 UK

MoD fit explosion safety system

Hercules aircraft
Hercules craft flying into high-risk areas will have the new system

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed it will fit safety equipment to some Hercules aircraft following a crash in Iraq in 2005.

Ten servicemen died when their aircraft was shot down near Baghdad.

A board of inquiry said the crash was not survivable but did admit that the lack of a fuel tank safety system could have contributed to the crash.

The Explosion Suppressant Foam will only be fitted to craft flying from RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire, to high-risk areas.

The flight which prompted the new safety move crashed on 30 January, the day Iraq held historic elections.

Highest threat

The crash was the single largest loss of British life in Iraq since military action began in 2003.

A statement from the ministry said: "The safety of our armed forces personnel is of paramount importance.

"Only Hercules with appropriate defensive countermeasures are deployed to operational theatres.

"Furthermore, we have decided to fit Explosion Suppressant Foam (ESF) to some of our aircraft; concentrating on the aircraft that operate in the highest threat environment."

The 10 dead included eight crew and two passengers.

The crew, who were mainly based at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire, were:

  • RAF 47 Squadron's Flt Lt David Stead, the pilot, 35
  • Flt Lt Andrew Smith, 25, the co-pilot
  • Master Engineer Gary Nicholson, 42
  • Flt Sgt Mark Gibson, 34
  • Australian airman Flt Lt Paul Pardoel, 35, a navigator
  • Chief technician Richard Brown, 40, an avionics specialist
  • Sgt Robert O'Connor, 38, an engineering technician
  • Acting L/Cpl Steven Jones, 25, of Fareham, Hampshire, a Royal Signals soldier.

The passengers were:

  • Sqn Ldr Patrick Marshall, 39, from Strike Command Headquarters, RAF High Wycombe
  • Corporal David Williams, 37, a survival equipment fitter.

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