£3M needed to repair Royal Navy’s last flying Sea Vixen after crash

Estimators say over £3M and four years of work will be needed to repair the Royal Navy’s last airworthy Sea Vixen after it caught fire in an emergency landing last year.

The veteran fighter suffered undercarriage failure and pilot Commander Simon Hargreaves was forced to bring Foxy Lady down at Yeovilton after an appearance at Duxford Air Show.

The belly landing made for a spectacular sight, throwing up flames and sparks as the jet travelled on its fuselage for several hundred yards before eventually coming to a halt; Cdr Hargreaves was not hurt.

Although Foxy Lady came through the landing intact, a comprehensive survey of the jet by engineers shows she suffered far more extensive damage than first thought.

The hydraulic failure which prevented the undercarriage lowering also meant the jet’s flaps – used to provide lift at low speed – wouldn’t work.

As a result, the landing Cdr Hargreaves was forced to make was much faster than normal. Coupled with the impact on the tarmac, the energy transferred throughout the Sea Vixen’s fuselage and airframe.

It’s left Foxy Lady with cracks in both of her distinctive tail booms, a badly damaged gear box and warped bulk heads in her engine compartment – and left the team at Navywings, who raise the money to keep the RN Historic Flight in the skies, with a major fund-raising headache.

Work by the assessors estimates that it could take between three and four years and cost £2-3M to get her flying again,” said Navywings’ Louise Evans.

“We urgently need a ‘white knight’ sponsor in the next month who would be prepared to come to the rescue and underwrite these costs and save the last flying Sea Vixen in the world.”

The vintage jet was donated to Fleet Air Arm in the autumn of 2014, since when its appeared at air shows around the UK as one of a few examples of veteran British naval aviation still in flying order.

The Sea Vixen had a notorious reputation during its 13-year service with the Royal Navy – spanning the end of the 50s through the early 70s – with one in three of the 145 jets built lost to accidents.

Foxy Lady was delivered to the RN at the end of 1963 and served with 899 NAS , whose mailed fist logo adorns the tail, until 1971.