U.S. Missile May Have Downed British Jet
By: Associated Press
(Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar)--A U.S. Patriot missile may have shot down a British Royal Air Force plane that was reported missing near Kuwait on Sunday, U.S. and British officials said.
Group Capt. Al Lockwood, a spokesman for British forces in the Gulf, said the Tornado aircraft may have been shot down near the Kuwaiti border after returning from a mission. There was no word on the fate of the crew and no information on their numbers, he said.
"One of our aircraft recovering from operations over Kuwait, evidence is beginning to come to light that suggests it was engaged by a U.S. Patriot missile," Lockwood said.
Asked whether "engaged" meant "shot down," Lockwood said: "Evidence is pointing in that direction."
A U.S. official confirmed that a Patriot missile battery "may have engaged" the aircraft near the Kuwaiti border.
When asked why a Patriot missile would have brought down an allied plane, Lockwood noted that the missile is designed to intercept everything above it from incoming ballistic missiles to low-flying cruise missiles.
"We wish to find out just as everybody else does, the U.S. as well, why this happened. And we will be carrying out a joint investigation to determine the facts so that we can eliminate this problem forever," he said.
"You must remember is high-intensity conflict. This is war and it's not training," he added. "We will continue to do our job and see it to its finish."
Britain has sent some 45,000 military personnel to the Persian Gulf to join in the U.S.-led attack against Iraq. Fourteen British and eight American servicemen have been killed since the beginning of the war against Iraq.
Six British troops and a U.S. Navy officer died Saturday when two British Royal Navy helicopters collided over the Persian Gulf.
Another helicopter crash Friday claimed the lives of eight British and four U.S. Marines. The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed and burned about nine miles south of the Iraqi border town of Umm Qasr. Military officials said no hostile fire was reported in the area.
Two U.S. Marines were killed in combat Friday, and another died Sunday in a grenade explosion at the 101st Airborne command center in Kuwait.