Probe after missile found at air base

WATTISHAM Airfield was today at the centre of an investigation after engineers found what they initially thought was a live missile.

WATTISHAM Airfield was today at the centre of an investigation after engineers found what they initially thought was a live missile.

Around 70 personnel were forced to leave a hangar and nearby buildings at around 11.20am yesterday.

The missile was discovered on an Apache helicopter which was undergoing a routine service after being deployed in operations in Afghanistan.

The hangar was evacuated and cordoned off and immediate safety precautions were put in place, but a bomb disposal unit later found that the missile was not live and posed no risk.

Details of how the missile came to be there are not clear, but chiefs at the base near Stowmarket have now launched an investigation.

Meanwhile, a worker at Wattisham, who did not want to be named, told how he became involved in the drama.

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He said: “We left the area and then met for a briefing where we were told that they had found something on an aircraft that shouldn't have been there.

“Something has gone wrong with their process. It strayed out of their protocol so they probably had to take lots of precautions.

“I wouldn't have liked to have been the person who found it, but I am sure there wasn't too much danger involved. “There are many safeguards in place.”

He added that many of the buildings nearby were used by private contractors who carry out various roles from building maintenance to electronic engineering.

A spokesman for Wattisham Airfield said: “At 11.20am on Monday, a missile was found in the missile pod of an Apache helicopter that had returned from Afghanistan.

“Immediate safety precautions were taken - the hangar was cleared and cordoned off and an Army bomb disposal team from Colchester Garrison was called.

“The bomb disposal team found the missile was not live and not a risk to anyone, and declared the scene safe. The hangar was reopened by 3.45pm. Wattisham Airfield has now launched an investigation.”

Were you caught up in the drama? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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