English asked to consider suicide missions
- RAF pilots asked to consider suicide flight
A senior RAF officer asked fighter pilots whether they
would consider suicide missions as a last resort to
stop terrorists if their weapons had failed or they
had run out of ammunition.
During a training exercise, Air Vice-Marshal David
Walker put it to newly qualified pilots that they
should think of flying suicide missions in a "worst
case scenario" when a terrorist attack was imminent.
The head of the RAF's elite One Group who is in
operational control of Typhoon, Tornado, Jaguar and
Harrier fighters and bombers, is reported to have
asked the pilots: "Would you think it unreasonable if
I ordered you to fly your aircraft into the ground in
order to destroy a vehicle carrying a Taliban or
According to reports in today's Sun, he told them they
knew when they signed up that they would have to risk
The Ministry of Defence last night confirmed that the
training exercise had taken place but stressed it was
a hypothetical question to provoke thoughts as to what
pilots would do if they were confronted with a
situation in which they might die.
"Air Vice-Marshal Walker did not say he would order
his crews on suicide missions," the MoD said in a
statement. "As part of a training exercise he wanted
them to think about how they, and their commanders,
would react faced with a life and death decision of
the most extreme sort - for example, terrorists trying
to fly an aircraft into a British city, being followed
by an RAF fighter which suffers weapons failure.
"These are decisions which, however unlikely and
dreadful, service people may have to make and it is
one of many reasons why the British people hold them
in such high esteem."
An MoD spokesperson added that Air Vice-Marshal
Walker, who saw action in Iraq, was trying to make
clear that all service personnel can be asked to lay
down their lives.
The comments distressed pilots who were present at the
"The idea of officers ordering personnel to commit
suicide is disgusting," an unnamed officer told the
Another said: "His idea of leadership is to suggest
that it is within his power to authorise the first
example of an ordered kamikaze attack in the RAF's
89-year history. He is subtly suggesting that if he
wished he could order anyone in his command to die."
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