A hundred British military personnel have died in the past 35 years because of “avoidable” accidents linked to government maladministration, a new book claims.
David Hill, a former avionics project manager at the Ministry of Defence, has accused it of repeatedly cutting costs at the expense of safety, which he said had contributed to fatal aircraft crashes. He said that he had witnessed in Whitehall how bungled departmental procurement decisions had entailed cash being wasted on obsolete items, prompting a squeeze in the budget for crucial safety training and equipment.
Mr Hill, who retired in 2004, sets out his argument in Breaking the Military Covenant: why British servicemen are dying unnecessarily, to be published next month.
Among the 11 military accidents he examined was the collision of two Sea King Mk7 helicopters in the Gulf in 2003 in which six British personnel and one US crew member were killed. The programme to upgrade the helicopters to the Mk7 had been compromised two years earlier, he said, “allowing known risks to manifest themselves” on the day of the crash. Among the factors he highlights was the failure to provide night vision goggles for the pilots.
Mr Hill also criticised the MoD’s “failure to maintain airworthiness” of an RAF Nimrod surveillance aircraft that crashed in Afghanistan in 2006 after a fire. All 14 crew died. An independent review’s recommendations are yet to be implemented, he said. (end of excerpt)
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