Coroner asks for update from army after inquest on six soldiers killed when their Warrior armoured vehicle was blown up
Two thirds of the army’s Warrior armoured vehicles in Afghanistan still have not had crucial safety improvements made to them 18 months after six British soldiers were killed when theirs was turned into a fireball by a huge bomb, it has emerged.
The Warriors, one of the workhorses of the British army, are to be fitted with a upgraded fuel tank not so liable to burst but so far only eight have undergone the fix with another 21 still waiting for the work to be carried out.
An inquest on the six men who were killed in the biggest single loss of British life to enemy attack since the allied invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 has heard that troops have faith in the vehicle. Experts said the bomb that hit the men would have overwhelmed any vehicle the army has in theatre.
The Oxfordshire coroner, Darren Salter, said he was confident that significant steps were being taken to improve the Warriors, which also include adding extra armour, easier ways of getting out in an emergency and better firefighting equipment. But he said he would be asking the army for an update on the work being carried out.
He also stopped short of criticising the decision to send the Warrior out on the fatal patrol as night fell. “I am not going to second-guess decisions of commanders. These are experienced commanders who took decisions on the ground, balancing the risks and exercising judgments,” he said.
Speaking afterwards, Natalie Taylor, the mother of one of the soldiers who died, Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, hit out at the government. “To lose your child is as painful as losing your own life,” she said. “Our servicemen and women will continue to die as long as politicians who rule our lives value money more than the lives of our sons and daughters.”
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said safety features were continually worked on but making changes took time. She said there was always a “balance” to be struck between adding safety features to vehicles and ensuring they could still be used effectively.
The tragedy in March last year took the toll of British dead past the 400-mark and focused attention both on the reason UK troops were in Afghanistan and whether the equipment they had was good enough.
Hartley was in the vehicle along with Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, and Privates Anthony Frampton, 20, Daniel Wade, 20, Christopher Kershaw, 19, and Daniel Wilford, 21.
Vivid accounts from troops who were in a second Warrior were given to the inquest. Sergeant Michael Watts said they had been given a few minutes to get ready to leave on the patrol. He said this was a “bit of a fast ball”. A few minutes into the patrol he heard a huge explosion. “I thought ‘What the fuck is that?’,” Watts said in a witness statement read to the court.
A colleague told him the …read more