Wednesday, April 04, 2007

RAF pilots asked to consider suicide flight

From the Guardian

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 al-Qaida commander?"

According to reports in today's Sun, he told them they knew when they signed up that they would have to risk their lives.

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 conference.

"The idea of officers ordering personnel to commit suicide is disgusting," an unnamed officer told the Sun.

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."

Source , The Sun article

So, the fine line of morality between 'us' and 'them' becomes increasingly blurred.