Awacs crew may face court martial
Wednesday 31 August 1994
The errors committed by the crew of the Awacs plane - monitoring all air activity over northern Kurdistan on 14 April - include identifying the US Blackhawk helicopters as friendly but not telling the pilots of the F-15 jets who shot them down with the loss of 26 lives.
A Pentagon report last month revealed an extraordinary litany of mistakes made at all levels by the US Air Force officers in charge of the air exclusion zone in Iraq. One of the F-15 pilots had a droopy eyelid that made it difficult for him to tell the difference between light brown Iraqi and green-black US helicopters. Both F-15 pilots were briefed before taking off about everything - including the situation in Rwanda - but not about the fact that two of their own helicopters would be in the air.
The most mysterious aspect of the disaster is the inaction of the Awacs commander and his crew during the interception. The commander had only flown one mission in the previous three months and was not, under Air Force regulations, qualified to fly on the day of the accident.
The four crew of the Awacs who may face court martial have not been identified. It is not known if they are the same four who refused, on the advice of their lawyers, to answer questions put by the Air Force investigators. The final decision on the court martial will be taken by Lieutenant General Steve Croker, the commander of the Eighth Air Force, while a separate review board will make recommendations about what action is to be taken against the F-15 pilots. Three senior officers in overall charge of operations in the area have been relieved of duty.
A video of a radar screens on the Awacs (Airborne Warning and Control System) shows one of the helicopters correctly sending its Identify Friend or Foe signal which appears as a green square. Despite this none of the four Awacs crew members talking to the F-15s by radio told them that the Blackhawks had identified themselves. Shortly afterwards the F-15s said they were 'engaged' and then that they had 'splashed' or shot down the helicopters, killing 15 Americans and 11 others including two British officers.
Although their planes were crammed with technical devices able to see everything within a 300-mile radius, the Awacs crew deferred to the lead F-15 pilot, who believed, wrongly, that his wingman had also identified the helicopters as Soviet-made Iraqi Hinds. Critics say the disaster is in keeping with other incidents, such as the 1988 shooting down of a civilian Iranian airliner with the loss of all on board , by the USS Vincennes, which misidentified it as a bomber.
Those aboard the downed helicopters included members of a multinational field operation which had helped Iraqi Kurds to rebuild villages destroyed by battles with Iraqi troops after 1991 when the Gulf War ended.
General John Shalikashvili, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in July that there had been 'a shocking number of instances where individuals failed to do their jobs properly'.
- 1 Student jailed for hacking University of Birmingham computers to improve his grades
- 2 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
Student jailed for hacking University of Birmingham computers to improve his grades
Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
Nepal earthquake: More than 1,100 killed across four countries and in Mount Everest avalanche
Royal baby: Live updates as the wait continues for Duchess of Cambridge's second child
Hermann Goering's daughter fails to reclaim items looted by Nazi deputy during WWII
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...
Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...