Freak Hailstorm in Kandahar – Operation Weatherman

Hail Kandahar

As a result of a freak hailstorm in Kandahar on April 23rd 2013 a number of British aircraft were severely damaged.

A storm moved through southern Afghanistan April 23, causing damage to a number of Coalition aircraft at Kandahar Airfield. ISAF has already implemented actions to mitigate the effects of the storm and our forces continue to receive all necessary support

It was reported at the time that over 80 aircraft of various types were damaged.

Hail Kandahar

For the UK, the roll call included Chinook, Lynx and Sea King Helicopters, C130J’s, a HS125 from the communications fleet and one of the BAe 146 C3‘s, newly delivered the day before.

A 15th January Parliamentary Answer revealed some of the costs;

Hercules Aircraft

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the cost of the repair contract given to Marshall Aviation for the damage the five C130J Hercules suffered in the hail storm in Kandahar on 23 April 2013. [182432]

Mr Dunne: Repairs to the five C130J Hercules aircraft are being undertaken via existing contractual arrangements. We estimate the total cost of repair may be up to £10 million. Some £5.9 million of repair work has already been completed by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and all five aircraft are now back in service.

Military Aircraft

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the total cost of Operation Weatherman; and which aircraft were involved. [182428]

Mr Dunne: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 28 November 2013, Official Report, column 432W.

Costs associated with the repair and recovery of aircraft to date total some £8.7 million. As some aircraft are still being assessed for repair, the total cost of Operation Weatherman is not yet known.

The repairs to the 5 damaged Hercules were carried out under the Hercules Integrated Operational Support contract with Lockheed Martin and Marshall Aerospace and Defence in Cambridge. 4 were repaired in the UK and 1 in theatre.

The BAE 146C3 was returned to the UK for repairs and from other reports, the HS125 was written off.

The figures for helicopters have yet to be released.

Read more about the Hercules repair task here, with a few screen grabs below

Aileron and Elevator
Aileron and Elevator
Composite Panels
Composite Panels

We should also note the role played by 71 Inspection and Repair Squadron, based at St Athan, click here to learn more about one of those lesser known capabilities, the kind of which are spread across all three services.

That was an expensive hailstorm, with writing the HS125 off, repairs to the C130 and BAE146, plus the yet to be confirmed repair costs to the Chinook, Sea King and Lynx types, would anyone bet against the total repair bill coming in at under £20m?

This also exposes perfectly, the issue of reducing numbers, in future, if 5 A400M Atlas were so damaged, that would be over a fifth of the entire fleet.

The same calculations could easily apply to frigates or tanks.

Numbers count.






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