Join Date: Sep 2001
Re: Military practices downing airliners
Originally Posted by tycoonjack
Military practices downing airliners
(dbakersnip)GEN. RALPH E. Eberhart, head of U.S. Northern Command, said a strong set of safeguards are in place to prevent an accidental or unwarranted shootdown of a commercial airplane. (dbakrsnip)
Why would anyone be worried? It's been over a year
since the US has accidently had a civillian plane shot down!
Report Issued in Plane's Downing |
Lax Procedures Are Cited in Peru Shoot-Down
By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 3, 2001; Page A02
The scene taped by the infrared camera on the nose of the CIA aircraft is soothingly calm. For nearly 45 minutes, a small plane moves through billowing clouds over northern Peru, blissfully unaware it is being followed.
Inside the CIA cockpit, a voice recorder catches the low beat of pop music and the English and Spanish radio conversations of two American pilots and the Peruvian official aboard as they guide a Peruvian A-37B toward the suspected drug flight. But to each other, and in pidgin Spanish to the Peruvian official, the Americans mention their rising doubts that the plane contains a drug smuggler. Busy on his radio as the fighter closes in, the Peruvian turns to them and says, "What?"
Suddenly a loud voice breaks into the tape, screaming, "Me estan matando! Me estan matando!" They are killing me. They are killing me.
"No!" yells one of the CIA pilots to the Peruvian. "Don't shoot! No mas, no mas."
The Peruvian, in turn, shouts into his radio to the fighter pilot. "Stop! No mas! No mas!" No more.
The other CIA pilot expels a breath. "God," he murmurs.
The dramatic recording ends minutes later, as the small plane is seen drifting toward the Amazon River below. The tape was released yesterday by the State Department, along with a report from the joint U.S.-Peruvian investigation into the mistaken April 20 shoot-down of a plane carrying American missionaries.
The report does not assign blame for the incident, which resulted in the deaths of a missionary woman, Veronica "Roni" Bowers, and her infant daughter, as well as the severe wounding of pilot Kevin Donaldson. But its description of the program under which the United States helped Peru to shoot down drug planes is of a tragedy waiting to happen.
When the program began in 1994, President Bill Clinton certified that Peru had rigorous procedures to prevent the loss of innocent lives. But those procedures "became less detailed and explicit" over the years, the report says.
According to Rand Beers, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, who headed the investigation, the original procedures were "abbreviated," both in joint training for the missions and in subsequent written agreements. What began as a careful, four-step process to identify and warn an aircraft before opening fire became three rapid phases: "Radio. Warning. Use of deadly force." Investigators, Beers said, "are not aware that anyone in Washington knew that these were the phases and that they had been abbreviated."
Donaldson, the missionary pilot, had not turned on the VHF radio that the Peruvian jet used in three warnings, all in the final 10 minutes of the incident. Donaldson was using a separate, high-frequency radio to call his wife in his home city of Iquitos, and to tell the Iquitos airport control tower he would arrive soon. The CIA plane heard his screams over that radio.
Although the registration number of Donaldson's plane was clearly written on its tail and on the fixed wing above the fuselage, it was not checked before the shoot-down.
The jet pilot made no attempt to fly in front of Donaldson and waggle his wings, instructing him to land as prescribed by international aviation accords. Flying behind, where Donaldson could not see him, he fired warning shots above the missionary plane. But the fighter's nose was pointed toward the sky, as the pilot tried to avoid stalling at Donaldson's slow speed, so the missionaries never saw the shots passing above their plane.
But don't fear, that program has safety measures in place now too
To help prevent erroneous shoot-downs, Colombian ground and air crews and pilots are receiving safety training in Oklahoma City, said Brig. Gen. Galen Jackman of the U.S. Army.
Too bad that plane was carrying innocent American civillians and not drugs. Otherwise, a bunch of murders would have been easily justified. But it's okay, history doesn't repeat itself, especially with safety procedures in place.