The Ministry of Defence has named the two RAF men who died in.
They are Flt Lt Alan Scott, of 33 Squadron, and Flt Lt Geraint “Roly” Roberts, of 23 Squadron. Both officers were members of the Puma helicopter force based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire. Three others died in the crash – two US service members and one French civilian contractor.
, the defence secretary, said: “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families and loved ones of the deceased ... although the UK’s combat mission has ended, the dedication and professionalism of our men and women is essential as we continue to support the government of Afghanistan.”
Simon Paterson, group captain and station commander at RAF Benson, said: “Today we mourn the loss of two of our most capable and dedicated colleagues and friends, both of whom were exceptional men who made a massive impact on the Puma force and, indeed, the station,” said Simon Paterson, group captain and station commander at RAF Benson.
The UK Puma Mk II 2 helicopter crashed while attempting to land at the headquarters of the Nato-led Afghan training mission, , in Kabul, the Afghan capital. The MoD said the incident was under investigation but confirmed that it was an accident, rather than the result of Taliban action.
The helicopter’s rotor blades apparently struck the cable of an observation balloon, which was severed from its mooring. An Afghan security guard who witnessed the incident told the Associated Press that the helicopter appeared to strike the balloon as it landed at the Nato base.
Najibullah, the Afghan security guard, said the helicopter “hit the cable of the security balloon over the base. It seemed like the cable was turned around the helicopter rotor.”
The RAF squadrons from which the British personnel came are based at RAF Benson, between Oxford and Reading in south Oxfordshire. The came into service in March.
The MoD also confirmed on Sunday that a British military convoy was attacked in Kabul. According to reports, the explosion in the city centre injured three civilians but no deaths were reported. There have been several attacks in Kabul in recent weeks, including an incident on 6 October, when the house of the former Helmand governor Nahim Baloch was targeted.
In April last year, five British servicemen who were killed when the crashed in southern Afghanistan.
The latest deaths bring to 456 the number of British forces personnel or MoD civilians killed while serving in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001. Camp Bastion, the last UK base in , was handed over to the control of Afghan security forces in October last year, ending British combat operations in the country.
after the International Security Assistance Force was wound down last year. Between 17,000 and 18,000 international troops remain in Afghanistan, of whom 13,000 – including about 470 British personnel – are part of Resolute Support. An additional 5,500 US soldiers perform different roles, including counterterrorism and logistical assistance.