French fighter jets in near miss after taking off from Yorkshire RAF base

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Two French fighter jets based in Yorkshire were involved in a near miss with another aircraft during a multi-national military exercise.

The first Mirage 2000 flew within 100ft of the BN2T Defender, which was on a solo navigation exercise to the north of Islay.

Aware that fast-jets normally operate in formations, the BN2T pilot continued to climb and soon spotted another Mirage which passed above him. He assessed the risk of collision as medium.

The French jets were operating from RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire as part of Exercise Joint Warrior last October. They did not report seeing the BN2T.

A report by the UK Airprox Board, which investigates near misses between aircraft, said: “Overall, this Airprox appears to have occurred due to ineffective lookout from the fast-jet captains and a decision by the BN2T captain to train in a height band routinely used by high-speed traffic.”

The report found the BN2T pilot was receiving a basic service without the aid of surveillance equipment and Scottish flight information.

Just before the near miss he received a Traffic Alert & Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) alert warning him of an aircraft 100ft below him.

He climbed and rolled to the left and saw the Mirage pass around 200ft below him “at high speed”.

The report praised his actions and said he had prevented the “close encounter” from becoming worse.

It said: “With regard to the BN2T’s pilot, the board agreed that his actions following the TCAS alert showed commendable awareness in that, having climbed away from the threat and having seen the first Mirage, he continued searching for the second fast-jet even though he had no indication of its presence.”

However, the board found he might have been better avoiding the area or flying in a different altitude band due to the increase in low-level traffic during the exercise.