US Military Cargo Plane Explosion over Mississippi Could Have Happened at Shannon

A US military cargo plane that exploded at 20,000 feet and crashed in Mississippi on July 10th, killing the 16 people on board, landed at Shannon Airport last December. The KC-130T Hercules transport tanker erupted in a fireball as it suffered what the US Marine Corps called a "mishap" on Monday evening. The crash occurred in a rural area, but if it has occurred as the plane was landing or taking off at Shannon the consequences would have been lethal and devastating.

In light of the serious risk to life presented by these aircraft, Shannonwatch calls on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to immediately suspend all US military landings at Shannon and all US military flights through Irish airspace.

"We sympathise with the families of the deceased soldiers, as they too have become victims of war." said Shannonwatch member and former soldier Edward Horgan. "It took 4,000 gallons of foam to combat the blaze from the crash. Imagine the devastation it would cause if it happened as the plane was coming in to land at Shannon." 

The aircraft that crashed in Mississippi was a Lockheed Martin KC-130T, registration 16-5000, of the United States Marine Corps (USMC). It was operated by the VMGR-452 squadron based at Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York. The same plane landed at Shannon on 2nd December last, taking off a day later. There were 4 other US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps planes at Shannon on the same day.

"The Marine Corp plane that crashed has participated in military operations in the Middle East and Africa" said Edward Horgan "We also know that it was at Kabul Airport in Afghanistan in April 2002 around the time that US special forces and the CIA were involved in rounding up suspected Taliban members, many of whom were tortured and transported to Guantanamo and other dreadful prisons."

"The KC-130T is said to have one of the best safety records of anything the military flies today" said John Lannon, also of Shannonwatch. "If that is the case, then we have to be very worried about the range of aircraft the US military is taking through Shannon and Irish airspace."

US military aircraft with capacity to carry large bombs have travelled through Shannon Airport since 2001. "This means there is a real possibility of a similar or even worse accident occurring at or near the town" said John Lannon.

"The number of US mid-air-refuelling planes passing through Shannon is a particular concern. If one of the KC-135 Stratotankers that regularly land at Shannon exploded or went on fire at the airport the results could be catastrophic."

Over 8,000 US military planes were refueled at Shannon since August 2008, and a much greater number have passed over Ireland. A similar horrific accident to the Mississippi one could have occurred anywhere over the country, and especially at Shannon when it was taking off or landing.

"The government cannot say now that these planes present no risk" said John Lannon. "For our own safety, and for the sake of the millions of people dying and loosing family members to war, it is time to end the US military use of Shannon and Irish airspace."

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