A UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) AugustaWestland Lynx Mk9A multi-role helicopter has crashed in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, killing all five military personnel onboard.
The helicopter went down during a routine flight in the Takhta Pul district of Kandahar province, making it one of the most fatal aircraft crashes since the start of the Afghanistan conflict in 2001.
In September 2006, a Nimrod MR2 surveillance aircraft exploded in mid-air while supporting Nato ground operations near Kandahar, which killed 14 personnel.
Of the five servicemen who died in the crash, three were from the Army Air Corps, based at Royal Air Force (RAF) Odiham in Hampshire, while the fourth and fifth crew members were serving with RAF and 3 Military Intelligence Battalion, respectively, according to an MOD statement.
The MOD has attributed the crash to a technical failure, while rejecting claims of a Taliban shoot down, and launched an investigation into what it calls a "tragic accident."
An unnamed MOD spokeswoman was quoted by The Guardian as saying that the investigation has started, and the area of the crash has been cordoned off.
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"We cannot go into further details. At this stage it is not known how long the investigation might last or when investigators will deliver their report, but it will be a thorough inquiry," the spokeswoman said.
The incident, which brings the number of UK armed forces deaths in Afghanistan to 453, comes seven months ahead of the completion of the country’s combat mission in war-torn Afghanistan.
Considered a workhorse of the UK forces, the Lynx utility helicopters are designed to perform battlefield utility, anti-armour, search-and-rescue (SAR) and anti-submarine warfare missions.
The helicopters, which hold a good safety record, have been extensively used to provide fire support, troop transport and casualty evacuation in demanding conditions in Afghanistan.
Image: A UK military Lynx Mk9A helicopter in flight over Afghanistan. Photo: courtesy of AgustaWestland/MOD.