March last year. However, the crash report The Ministry of Defence recently released a service inquiry report into the loss of an RAF C-130J airlifter during a special forces mission in the Middle East. Tim Ripley reads between the lines to explain the work of the RAF’s sole frontline Hercules unit, the highly secretive No 47 Squadron.
T he ground appeared to rise up at the aircraft,” was the telling comment of the pilot of C-130J-30 Hercules C4 ZH873 as he described how his aircraft came to hit the ground 400ft (122m) short of an improvised airstrip in Syria on August 25, 2017. How this incident unfolded is explained in detail in a 178-page report by the Defence Safety Authority that was posted on the MOD website in May. The inquiry concluded that multiple factors involving night-vision goggles (NVGs), infrared lighting, radar altimeters and confused surveying of the runway contributed to the crew landing the aircraft short of a temporary airstrip operated by coalition forces.