Two missiles were smashed into pieces after they fell off a British warplane in bad weather as it returned from taking out Islamic State targets in Iraq.
The £105,000 Brimstone missiles came off an ageing Tornado fighter jet as it landed at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus this morning.
There was ‘poor visibility’ in the region at the time which meant the aircraft may have hit the ground at a wrong angle, forcing the missiles to detach from its mounting brackets.
An RAF source said the pieces of the missiles were being retrieved from the runway, adding: ‘Put it this way, they won’t be used again.’ The precision of the Brimstone missile is unique as it is capable of hitting a car moving at 70mph from seven miles away.
Whilst the missiles were armed with explosives, they did not explode. It requires a pilot to push an electrical trigger from the aircraft computer to enable the deadly equipment.
The Tornado was one of a pair returning from a mission over Iraq where the fighters have been carrying out attacks on IS positions since September.
An investigation is underway into how the incident happened, which is understood to have never happened before.
It is likely to raise doubts on the safety of the ageing Tornados – some older than 30 years.