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Helicopter crash servicemen are repatriated

A poignant ceremony marked the return of five British servicemen who were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan as they were repatriated to the UK.

Hundreds of people gathered in the sunshine at Carterton, Oxon, to pay their respects to the fallen personnel as they returned to British soil.

Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner and Corporal James Walters, all of the Army Air Corps (AAC), were serving as the Lynx aircraft's three-man team when they died.

They lost their lives together with Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan of the Royal Air Force and Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas of the Intelligence Corps, who were believed to have been passengers on the flight.

Read: Helicopter crash servicemen repatriated

Poignant ceremony as five servicemen are repatriated

Mourners paid their respects. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Family and friends watched a poignant ceremony as five British servicemen killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan were repatriated to the UK. Hundreds of people gathered in the sunshine at Carterton, Oxon, to pay their respects to the fallen personnel as they returned to British soil.

Friends and family laid flowers. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Family members then lined the road on Norton Way, clutching flowers including red and white roses, lilies, brightly coloured tulips and yellow daffodils. The street fell silent at 4.52pm, when the bell tolled to mark the arrival of the servicemen's families at the Memorial Garden.

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The bodies of British servicemen repatriated to UK

The bodies of five service personnel who were killed when their helicopter crashed in Afghanistan have been repatriated to the UK.

The bodies have been repatriated. Credit: ITV News

Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner and Corporal James Walters, all of the Army Air Corps (AAC), were serving as the Lynx aircraft's three-man team when they died.

The coffins were transferred to hearses. Credit: ITV News

They died together with Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan of the Royal Air Force and Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas of the Intelligence Corps, who were believed to have been passengers on the flight.

Read: Helicopter crash servicemen repatriated

Bodies of British servicemen repatriated

The bodies of five service personnel who were killed when their helicopter crashed in Afghanistan will be returned back to the United Kingdom later today.

MoD Handout) Captain Clarke, Warrant Officer Class 2 Faulkner, Corporal Walters and Lance Corporal Thomas. Credit: Ministry of Defence Credit: MoD/Crown Copyright

Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner and Corporal James Walters, all of the Army Air Corps (AAC), were serving as the Lynx aircraft's three-man team when they died.

They lost their lives together with Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan of the Royal Air Force and Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas of the Intelligence Corps, who were believed to have been passengers on the flight.

Their helicopter went down in Kandahar province, 30 miles from the border with Pakistan, on the morning of April 26.

More: Tributes paid to servicemen killed in helicopter crash

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RAF scrambles aircraft over Russian jets 'threat'

by - Deputy Political Editor
A Typhoon jet takes off from RAF Northolt in west London in 2012. Credit: Reuters

The Ministry of Defence says Typhoon jets were scrambled when Russian aircraft came close to UK airspace have now returned to their base.

The RAF jets were put on alert earlier today.

It's not an entirely unusual occurrence however. British jets have been scrambled in a similar way around eight times in the last year.

Father pays emotional tribute to Red Arrows pilot

The father of a Red Arrows pilot killed after he ejected from his aircraft while on the ground has paid an emotional tribute to him as an inquest into his death drew to a close.

Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham, 35, was killed after he was ejected from his Hawk T1 aircraft while on the ground at RAF Scampton and propelled 220ft in the air in November 2011.

Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham died in November 2011. Credit: PA Wire

Speaking after the narrative verdict was delivered, Jim Cunningham said: "Our son Sean died aged 35 doing what he loved, which was flying with the Red Arrows.

"From the age of 17, he had wanted nothing more than to join the Royal Air Force and serve his country, which he did with utmost pride and sense of duty. He served a number of tours in Iraq flying Tornados in close air support of coalition forces.

"Sean's death was a tragedy which we hope the evidence revealed in this inquest will help to avoid in the future. We welcome the conclusions of the coroner, which confirm what we knew all along, which is that Sean was blameless and his tragic death was preventable.

Read: Red Arrows pilot's seat was 'entirely useless'

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Ejector seat handle left in unsafe position

The inquest heard that the ejection seat firing handle had been left in an unsafe position, meaning it could accidentally activate the seat.

Mr Fisher described a safety pin that goes through the firing handle as "entirely useless" and said its presence was "likely to mislead".

The inquest heard that the ejection seat firing handle had been left in an unsafe position. Credit: PA Wire

There were 19 checks carried out on the Hawk T1 between the final flight on November 4 and the incident.

The coroner said there was a repeated failure not to notice that the pin had been incorrectly housed and that the seat firing handle was in an unsafe position.

However, he said tests had showed that the pin could be inserted into the MK 10 seat even when it was in an unsafe position, giving the impression to RAF personnel that the seat was safe.

The coroner also said that Martin Baker was aware of issues with the over-tightening of crucial nuts and bolts in the mechanism of the seat which would cause the main parachute not to deploy properly.

However despite being aware of these issues since 1990, Martin Baker failed to pass on the warnings to the Ministry of Defence, the coroner said.

Mr Fisher said that, on the day of the incident, a shackle jammed and stopped the main parachute from opening and Flt Lt Cunningham being separated from the seat.

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