Missiles fall off British warplane in Cyprus

NICOSIA, July 15

Two missiles fell from a warplane at a British base in southern Cyprus on Wednesday as the aircraft returned from a military operation, without causing casualties, base officials said.

The runway was closed after two Brimstone missiles detached themselves from a Tornado GR4 while landing at RAF Akrotiri on the outskirts of the coastal town of Limassol.

British forces spokesman Kristian Gray said, “While landing on the runway from an operational flight, two Brimstone missiles detached from the GR4 aircraft. They did not detonate and no injuries happened.” British defence ministry experts were removing the missiles.

“To the best of our knowledge this is the first time this has happened, the causes are still not clear and are under investigation,” Gray said.

Akrotiri — one of Britain’s largest airfields abroad — is being used as a staging post for sorties and surveillance against Islamic State jihadist targets in Iraq.

Brimstone missiles are specifically designed to seek out and destroy armoured vehicles and tanks on the move.

Akrotiri is one of two British sovereign bases that the UK retains on the east Mediterranean island since Cyprus gained independence from British rule in 1960.

On July 6, a bomb fell from an Iraqi Sukhoi warplane and exploded in eastern Baghdad because of a “technical problem”, with officials saying at least eight people were killed.