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Pilots dead after Patriot accident

GR4
A British Tornado GR4 similar to the one shot down

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SPECIAL REPORT
•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- The pilot and co-pilot aboard the British Tornado GR4 aircraft that was shot down by a U.S. Patriot missile are dead, London's Defense Ministry has said.

Investigators looking into why the plane was shot down will focus on determining what mistakes were made, according to a British military spokesman.

"Something probably went wrong in some way, but we're in an incredibly busy environment ... with every pilot focused on what they're doing," spokesman Captain Jon Fynes said.

"People have to react in a hostile environment; mistakes can happen," he said.

Fynes said investigators will look for something obvious that can be fixed easily, but if it can't be fixed "today or tomorrow, it will be fixed."

The Tornado tragedy follows helicopter accidents on Friday and Saturday in which 14 British troops were killed.

In a broadcast on the British Forces Broadcasting Service, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the accidents were the "bitter fruit of a necessary war."

"These things are never easy," Reuters reports Blair saying. "There will be some difficult times ahead but it is going to plan despite the tragedies that there were."

The group captain in charge of the Tornado squadron described the tragedy as "a huge blow to the detachment and particularly to their squadron," Reuters reports.

In a Sunday afternoon briefing from Qatar, British Major General Peter Wall said officials had already checked their standard procedures and they were "satisfied" with them.

General Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chief of Staffs, pointed to a possible breakdown of the "elaborate procedures and electronic means to identify friendly and enemy aircraft" as causing the incident.

"Central Command is looking into that as we speak," Myers said Sunday on ABC's This Week.

"We must also recognize that we're working at the edge of the operational envelope," Wall said. "The risks will never be eradicated, but we're always working to ensure that they are minimized."

The loss of the aircraft comes after two deadly accidents involving helicopters belonging to U.S. and British forces.

Six British crew members and one American were killed Saturday in a midair collision between two British Navy Sea King helicopters over the Persian Gulf, according to the UK Central Command in Qatar and the Pentagon.

On Friday, a U.S. Marine CH-46 helicopter crashed in Kuwait, killing all 12 people aboard.

The eight British and four American dead were the first coalition casualties of the war against Iraq.

--CNN's Tom Mintier contributed to this report.


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