SAS skydive terror: Scramble to save critically injured UK soldier who crashed to ground in enemy territory in Iraq after mid-air tangle with US serviceman
- EXCLUSIVE SAS soldier critically wounded in a parachuting accident in Iraq
- The trooper crashed to the ground at high speed following a mid-air collision
- Horrific accident triggered major rescue operation as stranded men lay in agony
The trooper crashed to the ground at high speed following a mid-air collision with a US special forces soldier on the same operation who was also severely injured.
Both men had jumped from planes at 18,000ft and went into freefall, sky-diving before opening their parachutes. They then smashed into each other in the darkness, their parachutes became entangled and they plunged to Earth.
The horrific accident, which came as British and American special forces were dropped into the target area, triggered a major rescue operation. The stranded men were lying in agony and fearing capture by IS jihadists in enemy territory.
They managed to radio for help and within minutes dozens of heavily armed SAS and Delta Force troops scrambled onto CH-47 Chinook helicopters at a secret base.
They flew to the crash site and sprinted across rocky ground to form a protective circle around the injured men. The elite British and US soldiers trained their weapons on the surrounding hillside for any movement by IS gunmen.
An SAS source said: ‘A team of SAS and Delta Force soldiers jumped at night from a transport aircraft cruising at around 18,000ft.
‘It was a High Altitude Low Opening (Halo) jump which is preferred for covert insertions. After jumping they accelerated in the freefall stage to a terminal velocity of around 120mph.’
The insider explained: ‘At this stage they were breathing with the assistance of oxygen supplies.
United States Army Special Forces soldiers parachute from an Air Force C-130 aircraft (File image)
‘All the parachutists were relying on night vision goggles. The coming-together, which could have killed both guys, happened after they had pulled their chutes.
‘One or perhaps both of the injured jumpers could have become disorientated or may have been studying the navigation board strapped to his chest when the collision occurred.’
The source said the parachute canopies were ‘very delicate and partially deflated. Their lines also became entangled and both men were spiralling out of control.
‘They made emergency landings at high speed, hitting the ground very hard and suffering severe lower limb and back injuries.
‘In spite of their injuries they remained calm and radioed for help. But it must have been pretty nerve-racking waiting for the Quick Reaction Force to arrive.’
The incident involving the SAS soldier, from A Squadron, happened late last month near Baiji, 130 miles north of Baghdad. It came as allied forces launched a new offensive against IS strongholds.
The Daily Mail understands the injured pair required oxygen supplies on the helicopter flight back to their base. Meanwhile, the crash site was ‘cleansed’ for any allied equipment and their parachutes were recovered. The pair were flown to a US military hospital in Germany for treatment.
Sources said an intelligence gathering operation by British and US special forces resumed after the dramatic accident.
The incident involving the SAS soldier, from A Squadron, happened late last month near Baiji, 130 miles north of Baghdad (File image)
Days later, RAF Typhoon jets targeted IS cave complexes in a mountain range nearby. Bombs destroyed entrances to the caves.
UK forces are said to be increasing their ‘mission tempo’ against IS after a Covid-induced lull.
However, it is estimated that British operations still killed more than 100 fighters, including UK-born jihadists, in the first half of 2020.
In 2018 SAS sniper Sergeant Matt Tonroe, 33, was killed by US friendly fire on secret operations in Syria against IS.
Last night a Ministry of Defence spokesman would only say: ‘We do not comment on Special Forces.’