AN RAF Chinook helicopter has been stuck in a farmer's field for days after rookie pilots made an emergency landing and it sank into the mud.
The massive 12-tonne chopper, which can carry up to 55 fully armed troops, suffered a mechanical fault in mid-air.
Its crew, from RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, were learning to fly the heavy lift chopper when it suffered a hydraulics failure on Tuesday.
An RAF source said: "It suffered a mechanical issue related to the hydraulics. If you get a warning light you have to land as soon as is practical.
"The crew identified a large, flat field as a safe place to land and everyone made if off safely.
"Unfortunately, while they were waiting for the engineers to fix the faultthe aircraft started to sink into the soft ground."
Efforts to dig it outhad to be abandoned over fears that it would damage the antennae attached to the aircraft's belly.
Chinooks can carry up to 10 tonnes of cargo, including artillery guns, armoured cars and other helicopters in a sling under the aircraft.
Commanders considered using a second Chinook to lift the stranded chopper out of the bog.
"Ultimately, they decided the best course of action was to bring in a crane," the RAF source added.
A specialist team engineers from the Joint Aircraft Recovery Team are due to lift it out on Monday.
RAF troops were sent to stand guard over the aircraft.
A spokesman for RAF Benson said they were "extremely thankful to the landowners for their understanding and support during this work".
"Particularly the kindness they’ve shown to our team guarding the aircraft during some very cold nights," RAF Benson said on its Facebook page.
The incident happened near the village of Kingston Lisle.
"Unfortunately, the aircraft soon sank into the field, likely due to the extended period of wet weather that we’ve been experiencing recently," the RAF added.
"Our engineers deployed to the site to assess the mechanical issue and this has now been fixed.
"However, the extremely soft ground has made the recovery of the Chinook to RAF Benson very difficult.
"A tri-Service team of specialists is working hard to safely extract the aircraft from the mud.
"While it was hoped that it could simply be dug out and then flown home, the risk of damage to the aircraft from this course of action has been assessed as significant and alternative options are being explored, including potentially lifting it from the mud with a crane."
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