27 April 2010

Australia's AP-3C Damaged by Flare Countermeasure Accident

27 April 2010

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion, of 92 Wing, jettisons flares during a trial of electronic warfare self-protection systems (photo : Airforce Technology)

RAAF Plane Damaged by Flare on Board

THE crew of an RAAF Orion patrol plane have landed their aircraft safely after it was seriously damaged over Afghanistan by one of its own flares.

The air force is investigating the incident, which involved a flare designed to lure missiles away from aircraft.

The flare became hung up in the aircraft during a patrol over southern Afghanistan a fortnight ago. Details of the incident were released only yesterday.

The four-engined P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft entered service with the Royal Australian Air Force in 1968.

Better known for its maritime patrol work, the aircraft is gathering vital intelligence on Taliban insurgents for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

"The incident was related to the irregular release of one of the aircraft's counter-measure flares due to a systems malfunction," an ADF statement said.

"The crew ceased their assigned mission and safely landed the aircraft at al-Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates." Damage to the airframe was serious enough to require a technical and air safety investigation.

The Orion was designed to track down and sink enemy submarines using torpedoes and Harpoon anti-shipping missiles, but it can also carry out high altitude surveillance with its sophisticated cameras and other intelligence gathering gear.

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