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Last Updated: Friday, 16 March 2007, 10:42 GMT
How US pilots turned fire on 'friendlies'
The killing of British soldier Matty Hull in a "friendly fire" incident by US forces was unlawful, a coroner has ruled. It has led to calls for clearer communications between allies.

Map showing 'friendly fire' attack by US air forces on British troops near Basra

Two pilots - members of the Idaho Air National Guard - understood Iraqi forces were in an area close to the Shatt al-Arab waterway, north of Basra, in March 2003.

They identified what they thought was a convoy of "multiple-revetted" vehicles, which they believed to be Iraqi flatbed lorries carrying rocket launchers.

A-10 THUNDERBOLT II
A-10 Thunderbolt II "Tankbuster" aircraft
Function:
Close-air support (A-10) Forward air control (OA-10)
Crew: One
Length: 16.2m (53ft 4in)
Height: 4.4m (14ft 8in)
Wingspan: 17.4m (57ft 6in)
Max speed: 420mph
Range: 800 miles
Weapons:
30mm GAU-8/A Gatling gun
16,000lbs mixed ordnance
AGM-65 Maverick missiles
Laser-guided bombs
AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles

Although one of the pilots spotted what he thought were orange panels on the vehicles - signifying they were friendly forces - they were assured by forward air controllers attached to British units that there were "no friendlies" in the area.

The pilots concluded the orange must be rocket launchers, and began manoeuvring to fire on the convoy before they reached the next settlement.

Iraqi targets had been on the eastern side of the Shatt al-Arab, and subsequent investigations either side of the Atlantic concluded that the pilots were not clear where they were, or where the enemy was.

Graphic showing convoy of British Scimitar and Spartan armoured vehicles targeted by the US pilots

Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull, three days short of his 26th birthday, who was in the second tank was killed. Four of his colleagues were injured as the first two vehicles were hit and then destroyed in a second attack by one of the A-10s.

At L/Cpl Hull's inquest, coroner Andrew Walker criticised the Ministry of Defence for refusing to release the cockpit video recording of the killing, although the US military later allowed it to be viewed by a restricted number of people.

Images of Scimitar and Spartan armoured vehicles
Personnel: Three
Length: 4.9m (16ft)
Height: 2.1m (6ft 11in)
Width: 2.24m (7ft 5in)
Combat weight: 8.07 tonnes
Max speed: 80kph (50mph)
Weapons:
30mm L21 Rarden cannon
7.62mm GPMG
Personnel: Five
Length: 5.12m (16ft 9in)
Height: 2.26m (7ft 5in)
Width: 2.24m (7ft 5in)
Weight: 8.17 tonnes
Max speed: 80.5kph (50mph)
Weapons:
7.622mm machine gun




SEE ALSO
Coroner slams MoD over Iraq tape
01 Feb 07 |  England



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