US 'friendly fire' kills five
Saturday 03 October 1992
The USS Saratoga inexplicably fired two Sea Sparrow missiles, normally used to shoot down aircraft, at the Turkish destroyer Muavenet during Nato's 'Display Determination '92' war games in the Aegean Sea late on Thursday.
One missile blasted a hole in the destroyer's bridge, killing the five and wounding 15 crewmen, some seriously. The second appears to have fallen into the sea. The vessels were about three miles apart, 80 miles west of Izmir.
Defence experts believe junior officers on the carrier may have been under stress after a long spell at sea during which they were primed for a possible conflict with Iraq. In the heat of a realistic mock-up, a rating in charge of the fire control console may have pressed the button to launch the Sea Sparrows instead of simply tracking the 'enemy'.
Sensing no real target after their release, the Sea Sparrows, because they are not fully guided 'fire and forget' weapons, would have headed for the nearest target, in this case the Turkish vessel.
'These missiles have only a semi-active homing system,' said Paul Beaver, of Jane's Defence Weekly. 'You give them their launch parameters, but they find the rest of the way themselves. Once the human errors were made, it could have been a radio, or a telephone on the Turkish ship's bridge that caused them to home in. The weapons console is not unlike a desk computer, with the fire button covered by a plastic shield. It is not inconceivable that they were doing a tracking exercise and someone forgot to stop.
'Some of these exercises can be pretty tense and the man in control of the button would only have been a rating. The missiles are always armed but live firing exercises were not due to start until next week.'
US and Nato officers, and the US administration, were quick to apologise to the Turks, who left no doubt they considered the firing a tragic accident. But it revived memories of other 'friendly fire' incidents and accidents involving US forces, notably the US air force attack on British troops in the Gulf war and the shooting down of an Iranian commercial airliner by the USS Vincennes in the Gulf in 1988.
- 1 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 2 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 3 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 5 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Blogger captures footage ‘showing BUK missile launcher that shot down jet’ now back in Russia
In pictures: Israel-Gaza conflict
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
£55000 Per Annum plus company car and bonus scheme: The Green Recruitment Comp...
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Hand - QCProgressive are recruiting...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Chemical Eng...
Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...