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UK Royal Air Force loses Lockheed Martin C-130K Hercules transport in Afghan Helmand province

A UK Royal Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130K Hercules transport was destroyed today in an accident while landing at Lashkar Gar in Afghanistan, marking the UK's first airframe loss in the country since assuming control of its southern Helmand province early this month.

The RAF says the aircraft was burnt out after catching fire on landing, but adds that all crew and passengers disembarked safely. The service says it has no received no indication that the aircraft was hit by a projectile before or after landing, and that a burst tyre could have caused the fire.

UK C-130K Hercules W445
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The accident represents the RAF's second loss of a C-130K since January 2005, when one of its aircraft was shot down near the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing 10 personnel. The Ministry of Defence is funding an explosion suppressant foam upgrade to an initial 11 Hercules in the wake of the first loss, under a programme with a current cost of more than £7 million ($13.1 million).

Flight International's operations and safety editor's first operational squadron as a pilot was the Royal Air Force's transport No 70 Squadron, traditionally designated LXX. He blogs from its 90th anniversary party on what fellow LXX alumni think about the squadron's Hercules operations around the world and the UK defence ministry's plans to fit fuel tank intering systems as a safety measure.

Audio download:
Flight International's defence editor Craig Hoyle was interviewed earlier this month on British Forces Broadcasting Service Radio 2 about the plans to beef up the protection for the RAF's Hercules fleet.  Hear Craig's interview here from the Glen Mansell Interview programme.
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