[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 155
DECEMBER 4 1988
”A report by an international panel of aviation experts has concluded that a series of mistakes by the United States Navy in preparing for aerial combat in the Persian Gulf contributed to the shooting down of an Iranian airliner in the summer, with the loss of all 290 people aboard.” NYT Dec. 4 1988
On July 3rd, the American warship Vincennes mistakenly shot down an Iranian passenger plane, killing all 290 on board.
A report for the International Civil Aviation Organization concluded that:
”vague and otherwise inadequate precautions by the Navy for keeping civilian aircraft away from combat operations in the gulf had caused confusion and danger before the incident.”
The report was prepared by a group of experts selected among former pilots, aeronautical engineers and civil aviation executives from the about 140 member nations.
The organization’s governing council ordered the report. The Council includes the United States. The report was based on extensive investigations in the Middle East, including visits to the Vincennes and to Bandar Abbas airport.
The report harshly criticizes the US Navy regarding the fact that American warships in the gulf had no equipment that allowed them to monitor civilian air traffic control radio frequencies.
In addition, the report said that:
”the absence of a clear method of addressing challenged civil aircraft in Navy procedures probably contributed to the failure of the airliner crew to heed radioed warnings.”
Of the 11 warnings made by the Vincennes, seven would have been useless because they were transmitted on a military channel that was inaccessible to Iran Flight 665.
Of the remaining four warnings on the international civil aviation distress frequency, only one may have been received by the civilian airliner.
Over all, while the report adopted a generally approving attitude toward the performance of the Iran Air crew, it leaves little doubt that the experts put the blame squarely with the Navy. Seven of its eight recommendations were directed at identified Navy shortcomings.
Among these was:
”A call for military units in hazardous situations to be provided with the means to monitor air traffic control frequencies and to communicate directly with civilian controllers, steps to insure that military personnel have complete and readily accessible information on all civilian flights.”
NOTES AND REFERENCES
World Aviation Panel Faults U.S. Navy on Downing of Iran Air – December 4, 1988