A FOREIGN military jet came close to colliding with an RAF Leeming Hawk over the North York Moors, an investigation has found.

The UK Airprox Board, which deals with reports of close calls in UK air space, has released details of the incident over the Moors in November involving three high speed jets approaching each other head-on.

The first of the two F15s took action to put more distance between it and the Hawk, but the second F15 continued on its course and flew over the top of the Hawk, which was in the ascendency.

The report states that crews from each jet had been made aware of each other but the Hawk crew was not told early enough that there were two F15s following each other closely and were taken aback by the proximity of the second aircraft to their Hawk.

Radar information showed afterwards that there was 800ft separating the two jets and in submitting an Airprox report, the Hawk pilot deemed the risk of collision as ‘high’ although the F15 pilot assessed the risk as ‘none’.

An Occurrence Safety Investigation (OSI) was convened at RAF Leeming and the Airprox report stated: “The OSI determined that there was a loss of safe separation between the Hawk and the F15 because the late visual acquisition of the trail F15 by the Hawk pilots prevented timely avoiding action from being taken.

“Contributory factors included communication between ATC (Air Traffic Control) and aircrew, the use of secondary radar to provide surveillance and the lack of a collision warning system (CWS) on the Hawk.”

In a summary of the Airprox board’s discussions, concerns were raised about the actions of the pilot in the second F15.

It states: “The lead F15 pilot saw the Hawk and manoeuvred away, but even with updated Traffic Information, the No2 pilot thought that the separation was adequate and was content to maintain his heading.

“The Board were somewhat perplexed by this and wondered why the F15 pilot didn’t just manoeuvre to follow his lead to ensure a decent amount of separation.

“In particular, members with fast-jet experience wondered why a pilot would chose to fly head-on directly over the top of another climbing fast-jet aircraft without knowing the intentions of its pilot.”

In conclusion, the Airprox board categorised the incident as ‘B’, the second most serious rating, explained in the summary report with the comment: “Had the Hawk pilot manoeuvred unexpectedly, there was little the F15 pilot could have done about it and, even given that this had not happened, the Hawk pilot’s bunt (turning manoeuvre) had probably been the one action that had prevented this from being a much more serious outcome.

“Therefore the risk was assessed as Category B, safety much reduced below the norm.”