3.20.2009

A-10 Warthog Friendly Fire Incident

First my apologies for my abscense over the past week, I have been bedridden with a sinus infection for the majority of the week. I haven't had much time for research or to finish reading the recent NSA publication regarding Pearl Harbor. But to tide you over until my next post (sometime this weekend) I found something interesting today during my more lucid hours.

On 28 March 2003 during the Invasion of Iraq, a so called "blue on blue" (friendly fire) incident occured involving ground attack A-10 Warthogs and British FV107 Scimitar vehicles. The two American A-10 pilots, having received assurances there were no friendlies in the area from the FAC (forward air controller), proceeded to engage a convoy of what they perceived to be Iraqi flatbed trucks. 

In actuality, those trucks were British FV107 Scimitars operating in the area. The element wingman engaged the targets with GAU 30mm cannons, which are capable of destroying even the most heavily armoured tanks in the world through top attack. The incident resulted in five wounded and one British soldier KIA.

Wikisource has a transcript, and both the audio and video recordings of the incident. 

Note just how long it takes to go through proper channels. The American FAC took nearly two minutes to relay that there were friendly vehicles operating in the area, and shortly thereafter ordered an abort of the attack. Unfortunetly by this time the A-10 had already made two strafing runs on the target. This was likely cutting corners, as the official channel which had to go from British ground personnel, to their commanders, to TWINACT, then the AWACS above the battlefield took nearly six minutes. 

The system, however inefficient for this sort of thing, has improved dramatically since WWII. Similar incidents during the war usually saw allied troops taking friendly fire from aircraft until their guns were dry, and rarely was the mistake known to the pilots until they returned to base.

A friend of mine, the former Abrams commander mentioned in my previous posts, experienced this first hand in a live fire exercise with an A-10. The A-10 passed overhead and engaged a target, with the 30mm shells falling directly on top of his humvee. By the time the information was relayed to the pilot to abort, he had already made three passes and their humvee was completely torn apart by the falling shells.

The Satan's Cross is a truly deadly instrument, inspiring fear in its enemies, and sometimes its own troops.
 

4 comments:

Greg Taylor said...

I have to believe that by it's very nature incidents of "friendly fire" are grossly under reported in battle. I wonder if anyone has done an historical study of the percent of causalties caused by friendly fire. It would be interesting to see if the percentage of causalties has changed over time as technology and weaponry has gotten more sophisticated.

Linda said...

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Erick said...

I'm with Greg, i say we need to put the billions of dollars that go into non-sense and put it where it really matters like extra training or EVEN our economy... SMH. i get mad... sshhheezze

Kenneth Gibbons LLC said...

I am sure that incidents of "friendly fire" are under reported in battle. It's not something the government would want to be discussed. I wounder what the percentage of causalties has changed due to technology getting more sophisticated. thanks, Kenneth Gibbons LLC