An investigation has been launched after minor damage was found on two UK Royal Air Force aircraft shortly after they had completed an inflight refuelling sortie near the Falkland Islands.

"A minor incident involving a [Eurofighter] Typhoon and [Vickers] VC10 occurred in the Falkland Islands on 26 November," says the Ministry of Defence. "There were no casualties, however both aircraft sustained damage."

A military source says the crews of both aircraft were unaware of any contact being made during the flight, and the damage was noticed only after the aircraft had returned to Mount Pleasant airport and been inspected by ground engineers.

"An investigation into the cause of the incident is ongoing," the MoD adds. "Until this is completed, we remain unsure whether there was any contact between the two aircraft." Three Typhoons are believed to have been airborne during the training sortie.

 Typhoon refuels - Crown Copyright

VC10 Falklands - Crown Copyright

Both images © SAC Andrew Morris/Crown Copyright

The RAF flew four Typhoons to the Falklands in September, with the type replacing a longstanding detachment of Panavia Tornado F3 fighters in providing quick reaction alert cover for the islands.

Dubbed Operation "Tempest Trail", the deployment spanned a distance of almost 14,500km (7,840nm) and involved 10 support aircraft, including Lockheed TriStar and VC10 tankers and Lockheed Martin C-130K transports. The RAF says each Typhoon was required to refuel inflight seven times during transit.

Source: Flight International