Defence Secretary refuses to explain MoD Tornado failings

UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has refused to explain why no collision detection system was fitted to RAF Lossiemouth’s Tornado jets.

Moray MP Angus Robertson, the SNP’s spokesman on defence at Westminster, quizzed Mr Hammond during a defence procurement debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

When the MP raised the issue last week it emerged that the MoD had identified a suitable system fully 14 years before two Tornado aircraft from the Moray base crashed into the sea south of Wick in 2012, killing three airmen and seriously injuring a fourth.

A report on that accident is now with the Procurator Fiscal awaiting a decision on if a Fatal Accident Inquiry should take place.

During Tuesday’s debate Mr Robertson said: “We cannot allow a situation in the future where the MoD recommends potentially life saving equipment like anti-collision systems for Tornado jets – and then does not deliver them for 15 years.”

However, Mr Hammond refused to comment directly on Mr Robertson’s concerns, saying only that it was not the time to have a discussion about anti-collision systems, adding: “There is a distinction which must be understood by honourable members between failures of the procurement process and the very difficult prioritisation of spending decisions that is the responsibility of ministers.”

Following the exchange Mr Robertson said that it was a shame Mr Hammond did not take the opportunity to confirm the MoD will do better in future on safety equipment for service personnel.

He added: “It is inexplicable that the MoD has taken 15 years to install an anti-collision system in the Tornado fleet – no doubt this question will play an important part in the decision on whether to hold a fatal accident inquiry into the 2012 Moray Firth Tornado crash.”

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