The British bases on Cyprus are investigating how two Brimstone missiles detached from a Tornado jet on landing at RAF Akrotiri on Wednesday morning.
“This morning, during landing of a Tornado, two Brimstone missiles detached,” the spokesman told ‘Cyprus Mail’. “There was no detonation and no injuries. We are in the process of removing them.”
Update: The runway at RAF Akrotiri was closed on Wednesday, resulting in a suspension of missions over Iraq after two armed Brimstone missiles fell off of a Tornado jet as it came in to land in the morning.
A spokesman for the bases, Kristian Gray told ‘Cyprus Mail’ that no-one had been injured and the undetonated missiles were being moved. Meanwhile the incident has raised concerns over the safety of the eight Tornados which are used for sorties over Iraq after Britain joined the fights against ISIL last September.
Residents in Akrotiri were alarmed and said they already suffered with “unbearable” noise, every day, twice a day.
It is not known when the runway will re-open. Meanwhile the Bases spokesman said that it could take a couple of weeks before the cause of the missiles becoming unhitched is known.
British press reports on Wednesday said the missiles, which cost around 150,000 Euros each had smashed into pieces on impact with the runway. An RAF source told the Daily Mail: “Put it this way, they won’t be used again.” The reports suggested the missiles had fallen off when the Tornado had made a bumpy landing in poor visibility.
Reports in the UK media said even though the missiles must be triggered by a pilot from the cockpit, the incident would raise questions about the ageing Tornados, which were put into service during the 1991 Gulf War and are due to be decommissioned in 2019.
Last December in a letter publicised by the BBC, an RAF member said raids from Cyprus were being conducted against ISIS with “broken jets and tired and fed up people”. However, those claims were denied by the UK defence ministry at the time.
Update 2 In a statement issued by the base on Wednesday afternoon, a warning was given that locals would hear an explosion when the remains of the missile are made safe: “In the next 24 hours MOD Explosive Ordinance Disposal officers will detonate a small explosive charge to complete the work to make them safe,” said the base’s statement. “This could take place during the hours of darkness and may be heard by villages in the local area. Local residents should not be alarmed if they hear a loud bang as this is standard practice when dealing with such situations.”