Iraq almost hits U.S. U2 : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Iraq almost hits U.S. plane in no-fly zone By Jamie McIntyre CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pentagon officials say Iraq came close to hitting a U-2 spy plane with an unguided surface-to-air missile Tuesday, the second attempt by Iraq to shoot down a U.S. surveillance plane in less than a week.

The Pentagon reported last week that Iraq apparently fired a surface-to-air missile into Kuwaiti airspace in an attempt to down a U.S. Navy E-2C "Hawkeye" surveillance aircraft on routine patrol several miles inside the Kuwaiti border with Iraq.

The missile fired last Thursday at the E-2C missed by a mile, according to the pilot's report.

In the latest incident, Pentagon sources said a high-altitude missile -- such as an SA-2 or SA-3 -- came close enough to the slow, high-flying U-2 that the U.S. pilot felt the shock wave from the explosion, which occurred an undetermined distance below the plane.

There was no damage to the U.S. Air Force U-2, which was patrolling over the southern no-fly zone in Iraq at the time of the incident.

The northern and southern no-fly zones were imposed protect Kurdish and Shiite groups against attacks from Iraqi forces. Baghdad does not recognize the zones and has repeatedly tested them U.S. and British forces patrolling them by air.

As in the attempt to shoot down the E-2C, the Iraqi missile fired at the U-2 was fired "ballistically"; that is, without any radar guidance.

Using targeting radar would greatly increase the accuracy of the missile, but would also subject the missile launch site to immediate attack from U.S. fighters with radar-seeking missiles.

With radar guidance the supersonic SA-2 surface-to-air missile can reach 100,000 feet, high enough to hit even the highest-flying U-2.

Without radar guidance it would take an extremely lucky shot to hit a U-2, a Pentagon official said.

U.S. officials would not discuss the type of missile involved, nor what changes had been ordered to reduce the risk to surveillance planes.

In 1997, Iraq threatened to shoot down U-2 planes providing surveillance for the United Nations but never followed through on the threat, possibly because the U.N. U-2 flights avoided all known SA-2 sites.

U.S. officials said in this case they were aware of SA-2 missiles in the southern no-fly zone, but they were nevertheless "surprised" at Iraq's attempt to down the unarmed U-2.

The U-2's main protection is its ability to fly above 70,000 feet, beyond the range of most anti-aircraft missiles. Pentagon officials said it is well known that Iraq has missiles, such as the SA-2, capable of reaching those heights.

It was an older version of the Soviet SA-2 that downed the U-2 of American pilot Francis Gary Powers in 1960 over Russia.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 25, 2001


Why are they flying these old U-2's. What happen to the SR-71 and the surveillance satellites.

-- David Williams (, July 26, 2001.

I'm sorry Mr Williams, that answer is classified.

-- Larabie (, July 26, 2001.


WASHINGTON [MENL] -- The United States has confirmed that Iraq has improved the accuracy of its anti-aircraft fire against allied war planes even without the use of radars.

U.S. officials said Baghdad has developed a method of targeting high- flying U.S. aircraft. The Iraqis have stopped operating their radar batteries in an attempt to surprise U.S. and British warplanes on patrol of northern and southern Iraq.

The Iraqi method, the officials said, involves the operation of Baghdad's new early-warning radar developed by China. The radar is linked by fiber-optic cables to command centers in the south and provides information on approaching allied warplanes. In February, allied warplanes tried unsuccessfully to destroy the underground communications network.

Officials said Iraq has succeeded in tracking incoming British and U.S. warplanes, particularly from Kuwait, without producing radar emissions in northern and southern. But this method appears unsuitable to track allied fighter-jets, and, instead, Iraq has targeted slower moving reconnaissance planes.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 28, 2001.

Sorry, but the SR-71 is no longer in the active inventory.

"We don't need it" they said.

-- j (, July 31, 2001.

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