Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Thursday, April 03, 2003

Iraq Shot down US F/A-18 Hornet, Black Hawk Helicopter

A US Army Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in southern Iraq Wednesday, killing seven and wounding four others. Iraq also shot down a US Navy F/A-18C Hornet with a surface-to-air missile Wednesday.


Iraq shot down a US Navy F/A-18C Hornet with a surface-to-air missile Wednesday, military officials said.

There was no immediate word on the fate of the pilot. Statements released from US Central Command said the twin-engine jet, flying from the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, went down at about 3:45 p.m. EST.

The plane went down near Karbala, a city about 50 miles south of Baghdad where fighting raged between US Army forces and the Iraqi Republican Guard. Iraqi forces shot down an Army Black Hawk helicopter in the same area Wednesday.

Central Command said the downing is being investigated. Officials would not comment on search and rescue operations, but both Central Command statements said the military is committed to accounting for all coalition personnel.

It was the first American fighter jet shot down during the war on Iraq. The Iraqis have downed several pilotless surveillance drones.

Navy and Marine pilots fly the F/A-18 Hornet from aircraft carriers. The supersonic jets are armed with a 20mm cannon and can carry a wide range of bombs and missiles.

The easily maneuverable Hornet can operate as a fighter jet, shooting down enemy planes, or as an attack plane, bombing enemy targets.

Ealier, A US Army Black Hawk helicopter was shot down south of Baghdad Wednesday, military officials said. There were conflicting reports on the number of casualties.

Pentagon officials said seven soldiers aboard the helicopter were killed and four were wounded and rescued. US Central Command headquarters in Qatar released a statement saying six were believed to have been aboard and "casualties have not been confirmed at this point."

The helicopter was downed by small-arms fire near Karbala, Pentagon officials said. The Euphrates River city was the site of fierce fighting between the Army's 3rd Infantry Division and Iraqi troops, including Republican Guard forces.

The Black Hawk was the second US helicopter to go down in combat. An Army Apache assault helicopter went down March 24 during an assault on Republican Guard forces; its two pilots were captured by Iraqis.

The UH-60 Black Hawk is one of the Army's main utility and troop transport helicopters. Each is flown by a crew of four and can carry up to 11 soldiers.

The helicopters are equipped with advanced avionics and electronics, such as global positioning systems and night-vision equipment.

A Black Hawk crashed in a remote, wooded area of Fort Drum, N.Y., during a training exercise last month, killing 11 of the 13 soldiers aboard.

In February, a Black Hawk crashed during night training in the Kuwaiti desert, killing all four crew members. The Kuwaiti military said sandstorms were reported in the area at the time the chopper went down.

In January, an MH-60, an adapted version of the Black Hawk, crashed during training near Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, killing four members of an elite aviation regiment.

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