RAF destroys £10m spy plane in Afghanistan

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RAF destroys £10m spy plane in Afghanistan
By Stephen Adams

Last Updated: 1:55am BST 23/04/2008

The RAF deliberately blew up one of its own £10 million spy planes after it crash landed over Taliban territory in Afghanistan.

Faced with the prospect of the technology falling into enemy hands, commanders immediately despatched an elite unit to remove "sensitive items" from the unmanned Reaper spy drone.
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Reapers are used to relay real-time information about the enemy's position back to battlefield plannersThe items were thought to be a high-intensity camera and memory chips.

When the elite unit had done its job and left the area, a RAF Harrier was called in to destroy the remains of the crashed plane with a 1,000lb laser-guided bomb.
A military source said: "There was no way we could take even the slightest risk of the Taliban getting hold of any parts."


The top-secret Reaper, which had only been in service for six months, is thought to have suffered an engine failure before it was forced to land in southern Afghanistan on April 9.
The Ministry of Defence has refused to discuss why the 66ft wingspan, single-engine Reaper was forced to crash land, but ruled out enemy action.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We can confirm that on 9 April, a Reaper UAV [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle] made a forced landing whilst on an operation over a remote unpopulated area of southern Afghanistan.
"Sensitive items were recovered and the remaining wreckage was destroyed.
"The reason for the forced landing is under investigation, however mechanical issues are suspected."
The RAF bought three of the US-made Reapers last year.
The RAF announced in November that it had started using them to gather intelligence on Taliban activities in Afghanistan.
The Reapers are used to relay real-time information about the enemy's position back to battlefield planners.
Defence analyst Charles Heyman, a former British Army major, said it was a mistake to think that the Taliban could not learn lessons if they got their hands on a crashed Reaper.
He said: "It's wrong to think of the Taliban as not being sophisticated technologically. Certainly there are people in the Taliban's ranks who are just as technologically capable with information technology as anyone in the world."
According to the US Department of Defence Security Cooperation Agency, Britain is looking at buying another 10 Reapers as part of a wider £540 million deal.



http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...nafghan222.xml
 
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