Highlands & Islands

SNP: Safety work on RAF Tornado GR4s 'a shambles'

Tornado GR4 Image copyright MOD
Image caption Three men were killed following a mid-air collision in 2012

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has come under renewed fire over its efforts to install safety equipment on RAF jets.

The department has confirmed to the SNP that eight of the RAF's fleet of 100 Tornado GR4s have so far been fitted with a collision warning system.

Angus Robertson, the SNP's defence spokesperson, has criticised the pace of the programme of work, describing it as a "shambles".

The MoD said it is committed to introducing the TCAS II safety system.

But Mr Robertson said: "The programme is clearly in chaos.

"Over 20 years after ministers recommended that these systems would save lives they remain largely uninstalled."

The MoD has been criticised over delays fitting the system since a mid-air collision in 2012 between two Tornados over the Moray Firth, off the coast of Caithness.

Three men were killed and another seriously injured in the incident involving the jets that had flown out of RAF Lossiemouth in Moray.

Earlier this month, the UK's military aviation watchdog the Military Aviation Authority urged the MoD to fit collision warning devices to its new Typhoon fighter jets with "full haste".

A spokesman for the MoD said: "Whilst we are committed to introducing a collision warning system on the Tornado GR4 aircraft as soon as possible, this is the first time that we are aware of, that any combat jet in the world has been fitted with a collision warning system - a system which has been designed for use on slower and less agile civilian aircraft.

"Trials of TCAS II have revealed some compatibility issues which we are working hard to resolve but in the meantime, we are continuing to gradually roll it out to as many Tornado aircraft as possible to obtain early beneficial use of the system.

"Air safety is at the core of all our aviation activity and we take very seriously our obligations to our people and the wider community to ensure that our activities are both as safe as reasonably practicable and comply with relevant policy and legislation."

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