Five British forces personnel were killed in the crash of a Westland Lynx helicopter near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
An investigation is underway into the accident, which happened April 26 during a routine flight in Kandahar Province. Defense officials say there is no evidence of enemy action, so it would “appear to have been a tragic accident.”
The crash is the third biggest loss of life to British troops in a single incident in the country since the beginning of operations in Afghanistan in 2001.
The U.K. defense ministry said that three of the personnel were from an Army Air Corps (AAC) unit based at RAF Odiham, Hampshire, one was a U.K. Royal Air Force serviceman also from Odiham, and the other was an Army Reservist from 3 Military Intelligence Battalion, based in London. The only AAC unit based at RAF Odiham is 657 Sqn, a unit associated with supporting Special Forces operations.
The U.K. has lost seven helicopters in Afghanistan, but the April 26 accident is the first fatal loss in theater, and also the first known loss of a Lynx AH9A – a special version of the Lynx Mk9 developed as an urgent operational requirement by AgustaWestland with the higher rated LHTEC T800 engine for hot-and-high operations.
“Events like this, whilst mercifully rare, remind us of the risks our personnel face in their work in Afghanistan as we approach the conclusion of the combat mission later this year,” said Major Gen. Richard Felton, head of the U.K.’s Joint Helicopter Command.