AN airstrike obliterated the wreck of a Puma helicopter that crashed killing two SAS soldiers and seriously injuring several others.

The airstrike was called in to ensure total destruction of the downed Puma which lay in a "hostile" area, an inquest heard.

Intelligence reports suggested the risk at the crash scene was "too great" to allow a full on-site investigation, leaving investigators to work with the closest comparable alternatives to ascertain what could have happened.

The Puma's cockpit voice recorder was too badly damaged by heat to be of any use to the investigation, the inquest heard.

The Puma crashed and caught fire during a special forces mission in Iraq in November 2007. Sgt John Battersby and Tpr Lee Fitzsimmons died.

Statements read to the inquest said how rescue specialists from the US Air Force were scrambled to the crash scene to search the still burning Puma for the bodies of the men and remove weapons and "sensitive material" from the wreck.

In earlier evidence, SAS soldiers on board the doomed Puma told how badly they and their equipment had been thrown around inside by the impact of the crash.

The soldiers, the inquest heard, were in a habit of flying without onboard seat safety restraints because the restraints would not fit around the kit they carried and hampered a fast exit from the Puma.

The inquest continues.