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10 janvier 2012 2 10 /01 /janvier /2012 18:35

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10 January 2012 - by Tony Osborne – Fdlight Global

A British Sea King helicopter damaged by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) in Afghanistan has been returned to operational service with the Royal Navy's Commando Helicopter Force.

Sea King ZA298 was repaired by Vector Aerospace at Fleetlands after the attack in 2009 and took 18 months to repair.

The aircraft had been landing at a checkpoint in the Nad-e Ali area of Helmand Province when the rocket punched into the fuselage just behind the cockpit, slightly injuring the door gunner.

CPO Neil Copeland was the senior aircraft maintainer in Afghanistan at the time of the RPG attack. 'Because the aircraft was to be airlifted from the checkpoint, the mission was extremely challenging as we had to remove a considerable amount of hazardous equipment and fuel from the aircraft to ensure everyone’s safety and to reduce its overall weight,’ Copeland said.

'We receive military training in theatre for this type of eventuality but working on the rotor head, which was about 10 feet above the ground and four feet above the compound wall, certainly concentrated the mind as we were in full view of the terrorists who were responsible for bringing the aircraft down.'

The aircraft, which is now back flying with 846 Naval Air Squadron, has been damaged in theatre before. During the Falklands War, ZA298 was hit by shells from an Argentine A-4 Skyhawk. It also suffered some small arms fire during operations in Bosnia.

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