Nimrod Fuel Leaks
The Government has admitted that the RAF's Nimrod spy plane fleet has seen the number of fuel leaks reported by crew members exceed 300 in the two years since a plane exploded in Afghanistan claiming 14 lives.
Defence minister Bob Ainsworth said that since November 2006, two months after the crash near Kandahar, crews have been required to report all leaks associated with fuel tanks, the fuel system and any residual fuel.
Reacting to Mr Ainsworth's announcement, Conservative defence spokesman Gerald Howarth said: "The leaks are a matter of great concern. It's well known that there have been problems with the fuel system, which is why it is important the Government expedites the programme to replace the fleet."
In May it was suggested there had been 111 fuel leaks since the Afghanistan disaster. However, it has now emerged that this figure referred solely to leaks from fuel tanks inside the fuselage and does not include leaks in other areas of the 40-year-old aircraft.
An inquest into the deaths of the 14 victims was held in May, prompting the Oxfordshire coroner to call for the entire fleet of 18 Nimrod aircraft to be grounded. However, the Ministry of Defence insisted the planes were safe to fly.
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Andrew Tucker from Irwin Mitchell solicitors who represented all 14 families at the Inquest commented: "The safety of all Service Personnel is paramount. The age and continued problems associated with the Nimrod Fleet is of great concern. We would urge the Government to address these issues without further delay."