Doomed jet 'identified as missile'
LONDON, England -- A British military jet shot down by a U.S. missile during the Iraq war suffered a failure of an electronic system which should have identified it as a friendly aircraft, the UK government says.
A U.S. Patriot missile shot down the Tornado GR4A near the Iraq-Kuwait border on March 23 last year, killing both crew. The jet was returning from a mission over Iraq.
UK Junior Defense Minister Ivor Caplin, publishing a summary of a Royal Air Force Board of Inquiry report, said the "immediate cause" of the accident was the U.S. Patriot missile battery which had "misidentified" the Tornado as an enemy anti-radiation missile.
But in a written ministerial statement, Caplin said there were several contributory factors to the accident.
These included the failure of the Tornado GR4A's "identification friend or foe" (IFF) system.
Other factors included the "wide classification criteria" for anti-radiation missiles programmed into the Patriot system and the Patriot rules of engagement which were "not sufficiently robust to prevent a friendly aircraft without a functioning IFF system being classified as an anti-radiation missile."
It recommended that the IFF system on each aircraft should be checked after takeoff and that the Tornado's IFF installation should be modified to make sure a cockpit alarm sounds whenever the IFF system fails.
The RAF report said neither crew member attempted to eject from the aircraft. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Kevin Main, and navigator Flight Lieutenant Dave Williams, were both killed in the incident.