A BRITISH military helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing in the Israeli-occupied West Bank yesterday following a “technical malfunction”, it was confirmed last night.
A spokeswoman for the Israeli government said that there were no casualties in the incident, which occurred during the afternoon, and that Israeli troops had been “securing the scene”.
It was reported last night that the RAF Chinook had been en route from the Jordanian capital Amman to Cyprus when it was forced to land close to the West Bank town of Jericho after one of its engines failed.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) later said that the crew had been returning from an exercise when it was forced to make what it described as a “precautionary landing”.
There were claims that the aircraft had touched down close to an Israeli minefield but a spokeswoman for the Israeli government denied this, although she would not say exactly where the helicopter had touched down.
“It made an emergency landing in the Jordan Valley as a result of technical malfunction,” she said.
Jericho is located near the River Jordan in the West Bank. It has been held under Israeli occupation since 1967.
The Palestinian Authority was handed administrative control of the town in 1994.
Britain has retained a military presence on Cyprus since 1960, when the island established itself as a republic.
British Forces Cyprus, as it is officially known, uses the base as a Mediterranean staging post for forces sent to locations in the Middle East and Asia.
At present, there are approximately 3,500 personnel serving on the island.
A workhorse of the British military forces, the Chinook is considered to be a very capable and versatile support helicopter that can be operated in many diverse environments ranging from cold weather conditions to desert warfare operations.
The twin-rotor helicopters are used for transport and heavy-lift support, with the capacity to carry up to 55 troops or ten tonnes of freight.
The RAF operates the largest fleet of Chinook helicopters after the US Army, with a total of 40 currently in use and a further eight due to be brought into service. All are based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire.
The RAF’s fleet has seen extensive service during the Falklands War, peace-keeping commitments in the Balkans, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.