Might at the museum

It’s nice to see that one of the UK’s Nimrod R1 electronic intelligence aircraft has been put on public display at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford (which provided the image below), a little over a year after it was retired from service.

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Originally flown in the Nimrod MR1 maritime patrol aircraft configuration in December 1970, XV249 had the distinction of being plucked from storage in mid-1995 for urgent modification as an R1, following one of the most astonishing UK military incidents of recent years.

Back in the day, the three R1s flown by the RAF’s 51 Sqn weren’t widely acknowledged as existing, which probably made the very high-profile ditching of one of the fleet in the Moray Firth something of a PR nightmare. All seven personnel aboard XW666 – nicknamed “Damien”, in homage to the 1970s horror flick The Omen – escaped in a textbook ditching after the aircraft suffered a major in-flight fire. If anyone knows of a public-source image of that incident please could they post it as a comment below?

While the UK is now Nimrod-less (XV249 was the last of the type to retire, following a short period of duty during last year’s NATO-led campaign over Libya), the R1′s ELINT-gathering duties will be picked up by a fleet of three “Airseekers”, which will use the same mission equipment as the US Air Force’s RC-135W Rivet Joints. The first of these will be delivered in December 2013.


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