On 12 February an RAF Hercules aircraft was badly damaged while making a night landing on a makeshift airstrip in Iraq. The damage was so serious that it couldn’t be repaired on site and it had to be destroyed to prevent insurgents getting their hands on it. Fortunately nobody was killed.
In the most recent BBC report on the Hercules landing ‘incident’ we have these two statements:
A military spokesman in Basra said there was no evidence of hostile action during the landing in Maysan province.
The MoD stressed the aircraft had been making “a routine landing on a tactical landing zone” and the plane had not been shot down.
Contrast that explanation with the one given in the House of Lords and recorded in Hansard:
Lord Garden (Liberal Democrat)
Under what circumstances a United Kingdom Hercules C130 aircraft was destroyed on 12 February in Maysan Province, Iraq; and what was the value of the aircraft.
Lord Drayson (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Defence Procurement), Ministry of Defence)
My Lords, a Hercules C130 on a routine mission was involved in an incident on landing in Maysan on 12 February. The initial investigation suggests that it was struck by an improvised explosive device similar to a roadside bomb. After assessment of the damage, it was concluded that the aircraft could not be recovered without undue risk to personnel so the aircraft was destroyed by UK forces. The current market value of a C130J is in the region of ¬£45 million.
So the Hercules was not damaged by an accident during landing, it was damaged by a bomb on or near the runway. I can’t find anything in the British media mentioning this. Why? Did the MoD play it down and keep quiet, and journalists miss the reference to it in Hansard? Is there something more official in place, or are journalists just being unusually discreet and waiting for an official report to be released later?
I can understand the MoD is unhappy that a cheap bomb destroyed their ¬£45,000,000 aircraft (plus contents) but I think they should have been more open about what happened, and the media should have updated the story when more details were revealed. There’s a definite difference between an ‘landing incident’ and an aircraft lost to enemy action.