A Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR4 strike aircraft has crashed at Afghanistan's Kandahar airfield, just weeks after the type took over providing close air support (CAS) duties from UK-operated BAE Systems Harrier GR9As.

Both crew members ejected from the GR4 as it crashed within the perimeter at Kandahar while taking off early on 20 July. The personnel are being assessed after "sustaining some injuries", the RAF confirms. An investigation will be launched to determine the cause of the crash, but enemy action has already been ruled out, it adds.

Tornados from the RAF's 12 Sqn earlier this month assumed CAS responsibilities from the service's 1 Sqn, which returned its aircraft to the UK after a more than five-year commitment maintained by the nation's Joint Force Harrier organisation.

 Tornado GR4 Afghanistan - Crown Copyright
© Crown Copyright

The Tornado incident is the second crash in as many days at the NATO-run air base, with a Mil Mi-8 transport helicopter also having come down on 19 July, killing 16 personnel.

Both crew from a US Air Force Boeing F-15E also died in Afghanistan the previous day, when their aircraft crashed. The service says the incident "was not due to hostile fire".

The Strike Eagle was assigned to the USAF's 336th Fighter Squadron, home based at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina. An investigation has been launched into the aircraft's loss.

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Source: Flight International