AN MP says he will continue his crusade to have all RAF Hercules fitted with Explosion Suppressant Foam (ESF), although the substance would not have saved one of the planes in Afghanistan.

Twenty-six passengers and nine crew on board the older K version of the RAF Lyneham Hercules made a dramatic escape from the plane when it burst into flames shortly after landing at Lashkar Gar Tactical Landing Zone in May last year.

The blaze burned out the aircraft and the only recognisable piece of the Hercules that survived was its enormous tail fin.

The explosion prompted calls for ESF to be fitted in all Hercules but a Royal Air Force Board of Inquiry said the foam would have made little difference to the explosion that followed its landing.

The board of inquiry concluded that the aircraft was destroyed by fire after detonating an anti-tank mine on the Tactical Landing Zone.

The inquiry found that the explosion caused significant damage to the aircraft's landing gear, resulting in debris puncturing the left wing fuel tanks.

In turn this caused an uncontrollable fire leading to the loss of the aircraft.

A statement released by the inquiry said: "The board of inquiry concluded that, even if the aircraft had been fitted with ESF, it would not have prevented its loss.

"This is because ESF does not prevent leaks when the fuel tanks are punctured."

The board's recommendations included a review of procedures at Tactical Landing Zones, which are now being used in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

But North Wiltshire MP James Gray says that he will continue to press the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on installing ESF in the entire ageing Hercules fleet.

"I'm glad to hear that ESF would not have made a difference," said Mr Gray.

"But it still concerns me that the plane was deployed to Afghanistan without ESF fitted.

"I have had assurances from the MoD that they are fitting the planes with the foam as quickly as they can.

"It costs about £1m a go, so it's a big job, but I will continue to ensure that all safety measures are implemented.

"I'm going out to visit our troops myself late summer, early autumn.

"I hope I will be flying in a Hercules and will be checking whether ESF has been fitted."

Earlier this month, a report by the Commons Defence Committee said that aircrews at Lyneham were being forced to work with ageing RAF planes that were not good enough for the job.

The report said there were "real doubts" that the Hercules, which are up to 40 years old, would survive until new replacements were brought in.

The committee also said that only 41 of the RAF's fleet of 75 Hercules, Tristar and VC-10 planes could be put into action at any time.

Mr Gray said new planes needed to be brought in as soon as possible.

Twenty-five Airbus A400m planes are expected to replace Lyneham's oldest Hercules C130-K planes.

But plans are already 15 months behind schedule and the new planes will not be ready for action until spring 2011.