Investigators could finally publish their verdict on the Tornado jet crash which killed three RAF Lossiemouth pilots as the base prepares to mark the second anniversary of the tragedy.
The inquiry into the mid-air collision over the Moray Firth – which is expected to be critical of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) – was completed in December but has not yet been made public.
However, UK Government insiders have now indicated that the release of the findings is imminent, potentially within the next few days.
It could mean it coincides with the second anniversary of the crash – a week from today.
The procurator fiscal has been considering the Military Aviation Authority (MAA) report into the incident for several months.
It is not known if a decision on holding a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) will be made at the same time as the report’s publication.
Moray MP Angus Robertson believes it is time the facts of the case were made public.
“It is high time for the Service Inquiry to be published,” he said.
“I am led to believe that publication could take place soon, but nearly two years have passed since the tragic collision of the two Tornado aircraft over the Moray Firth and there is a public interest in the findings being released before any announcement about a fatal accident inquiry.
“I strongly support the need for an FAI as I believe the collision could have been avoided if the aircraft had a collision warning system which was recommended decades ago.”
A series of revelations about the safety of Tornado jets have emerged in recent weeks as a result of parliamentary questions tabled by Mr Robertson.
In response to the SNP’s defence spokesman, military chiefs have confirmed a collision warning system was first recommended for the Tornados in 1998 – but is not due to be fitted until December this year.
It has also been revealed that the MoD temporarily cancelled the purchase of the £50million system in 2011 – despite the MAA warning in internal documents that delays to its fitting were creating a “chronic risk”.
Meanwhile, the MoD’s own figures show that since 1998 there have been 350 near-misses involving Tornados in which a pilot or ground controller feared an aircraft’s safety was compromised.
The Tornado GR4s are now in the process of being replaced by more advanced Typhoon jets at Lossiemouth, but Mr Robertson expressed concerns last night that they do not have collision warning systems either.
The 2012 crash caused the deaths of Flight Lieutenant Adam Sanders, Squadron Leader Samuel Bailey and Flight Lieutenant Hywel Poole. A fourth man, who has not been named, survived.
The Press and Journal understands a private memorial service will be held in the chapel at RAF Lossiemouth for personnel and families to mark the anniversary on Thursday.
A poignant monument, dedicated to the three men who died, was unveiled at the Califer Viewpoint beauty spot in Moray on the first anniversary last year.
Heldon and Laich councillor Eric McGillivray said the victims, their loved ones and colleagues would be in the hearts and minds of many in the Moray community as the second anniversary loomed.
“It was a major tragedy for the area and my heart goes out to the families. We still think about them and what they must go through,” he said.
“It reminds us of what these young men and women do in the services.”
He said he did not want to comment on the investigation until he had read the findings.
An MoD spokeswoman said she was unable to provide any update on the report’s publication last night.
A Crown Office spokesman said: “The procurator fiscal has received a report in connection with the deaths of three men, one aged 27, one aged 28 and one aged 36, over the Moray Firth on July 3, 2012.
“The investigation into these deaths, under the direction of Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit, is ongoing and the families will continue to be kept updated in relation to any significant developments.”