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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 October 2006, 19:48 GMT
RAF Iraq deaths were 'avoidable'
Tornado aircraft
The men were returning from a mission when they were hit
A coroner has described the death of an RAF navigator from Powys, shot down by an American missile during the Iraq war, as "entirely avoidable".

Flight Lieutenant Dave Rhys Williams from Crickhowell, was returning from a bombing mission in 2003.

His Tornado aircraft was mistakenly targeted by a missile defence battery.

Flight Lieutenant Williams, 35, and pilot Flight Lieutenant Kevin Main, from Staffordshire, were killed instantly.

An American Patriot missile defence battery in Kuwait had wrongly identified their aircraft as an incoming enemy missile.

The airmen, from 9th Squadron based at RAF Marham in Norfolk, were just 16 miles from their airbase, having completed a bombing raid on Baghdad.

How best can I deal with that? I can't, other than to say this should not have happened
Coroner Andrew Walker

The hearing was told how they were returning from a successful mission attacking south-west Baghdad as part of the "Shock and Awe" aerial bombardment by coalition forces.

At an inquest in Oxford, coroner Andrew Walker criticised the siting of the autonomous missile battery so close to a busy flightpath.

"It is very hard when considering an inquest such as this, where these tragic deaths were entirely avoidable," he said.

"How best can I deal with that? I can't, other than to say this should not have happened."

Recording a narrative verdict, he added that the defence system's crew had been inadequately trained.

Dead Tornado airmen named
25 Mar 03 |  UK

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