A COMMANDER from RAF Odiham has paid tribute to five Army personnel killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

As reported on The Gazette website, three soldiers from the Army Air Corps and a member of the Royal Air Force, all based at RAF Odiham were killed in the crash in the Kandahar province in south Afghanistan yesterday.

An Army reservist from the 3rd Battalion, Military Intelligence of the Army Intelligence Corps, based in London, was also killed in the crash after their Westland Lynx Mk 9 helicopter crashed in the Kandahar province in south Afghanistan yesterday.

Commander of the Joint Helicopter Command at RAF Odiahm, Major General Richard Felton, paid tribute to the personnel killed in a statement read at RAF Odiham this afternoon.

He said: “Following the tragic incident which took place in Afghanistan on 26th April involving one of our Lynx aircraft, it is with the deepest sadness that I must confirm the death of five service personnel, three from the Army Air Corps and one Royal Air Force serviceman based here at RAF Odiham and one Army Reservist from 3rd Battalion, Military Intelligence of the Army Intelligence Corps.

“All those within the Joint Helicopter Command, in particular those stationed at RAF Odiham, as well as those in the wider defence community will be deeply saddened by this dreadful news. Our heart-felt condolences go out to the families, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.”

He added: “The investigation into this accident is ongoing but this is not the time for speculation or comment. Our focus for the immediate future is to ensure that the families receive the support they need at this, the most difficult of times.”

The circumstances around the helicopter crash and identities of the five personnel who have been killed are not yet known but the next of kin have been informed.

The crash is the first fatal accident involving a UK military helicopter during the conflict in Afghanistan and it is the third biggest loss of life of British troops in a single incident in the country since the conflict began in 2001.

The incident brings the number of British forces killed in the Afghanistan conflict to 453.