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Warning Gear Triggers Missile Strikes

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 1996 – Pentagon officials said two F-16 pilots acted appropriately when they fired missiles at Iraqi targets after warning gear signaled Iraqi radar was tracking them.

The strikes occurred in the no-fly-zone over southern Iraq during separate incidents Nov. 2 and 4, DoD officials said.


U.S. F-16 fighter jets were patrolling as part of Operation Southern Watch when on-board instrumentation indicated Iraqi radar was illuminating them. Acting in accordance with the operation's rules of engagement, each pilot launched high-speed anti-radiation missiles at suspected Iraqi mobile surface-to-air missile systems.


The first incident occurred near the 32nd parallel southeast of Kut Al Hayy, DoD officials said. The second occurred about 25 miles from the first. Damage assessments are ongoing, officials said Nov. 4.


While Pentagon spokesmen said subsequent analysis of the Nov. 2 incident did not support initial indications of radar activity, both incidents are now under intense investigation. In the meantime, Defense Secretary William J. Perry said, Southern Watch air operations over Iraq will continue with the same rules of engagement.


"Those rules of engagement are that if their warning equipment on the airplane indicates that they are being tracked, they are authorized to launch anti-radiation missiles at the site," Perry told reporters Nov. 4.


"We conduct 100 sorties a day over this area," Perry said. "We conduct them with airplanes that are very well armed and quite capable of taking care of themselves."


The two F-16s, assigned to the 4404th (Provisional) Wing at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, returned to base without further incident, officials said.

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