Fighter jets flew within 200ft of helicopter in Nato exercise
The Sea King was returning to RAF Lossiemouth during Operation Joint Warrior last year.
Two fighter jets came within 200ft of an RAF helicopter during a Nato training exercise over Scotland.
The Sea King was returning to RAF Lossiemouth after taking part in Operation Joint Warrior on October 14 when its pilot spotted the jets approaching at high speed.
One Hawk T1 flew 200ft below the chopper, while another flew 500ft over it at around 480mph above the Minch.
In a report by the UK Airprox Board, which investigates near misses in British airspace, experts noted that Operation Joint Warrior was divided into two areas and that the Hawks had been cleared to fly in the south area, but were actually flying in the north.
They said: “The board was briefed by operations, who explained that the exercise was split into north and south areas, with Eagle providing a service for the south area and Falcon providing a service for the north area.
“Eagle cleared the Hawks but was not aware that they were operating in the north area or that the Sea King was transiting back to its operating base after refuelling at Stornoway.
“Whilst Eagle was permitted to clear the Hawks below the Rotary Wing Co-ordination Level if the area was clear, he was looking at the south area, did not have sufficient information to do so in the north area and was not aware of the Hawks’ location.
“Members agreed that, although there were important issues of exercise airspace design and coordination to be addressed, the pilots had been aware of and had seen each other at sufficient range that normal safety standards had been met.”
The Sea King’s pilot said there was a “medium” risk of collision, while the lead Hawk pilot assessed the risk as “low”. The Airprox Board said there was no serious danger.
More than 30 warships and submarines, 60 aircraft and 6500 service personnel from 14 countries took part in the last UK-led Joint Warrior exercise in October last year, making it one of Nato’s largest operations yet.