Dienstag, 6. Februar 2007

Blue on Blue

'I'm going to be sick'

The transcript of the conversation between two US pilots whose planes attacked a British convoy in southern Iraq in March 2003

Tuesday February 6, 2007, Guardian Unlimited

According to The Sun, which printed the transcript from a cockpit video taken from one of the planes and obtained by the newspaper, this was the attack in which Lance Corporal Matty Hull was killed.
The transcript identifies the pilots of the A-10 planes only as POPOV36 - who fired at the convoy, and who the Sun said was a lieutenant colonel - and POPOV35, a major.

Also speaking are Manila Hotel, Manila34 and Lightning34, US Marine Corps forward air controllers on the ground and attached to British units. Later, Sky Chief, a US AWACS jet controlling the air battle and COSTA58, a British pilot nearby, also speak.

The times given, from the digital clock on the pilot's display, are in GMT.

Transcript starts:
1336.30 MANILA HOTEL: POPOV from MANILA HOTEL. Can you confirm you engaged that tube and those vehicles?

1336.36 POPOV35: Affirm Sir. Looks like I've got multiple vehicles in reverts at about 800 metres to the north of your arty (artillery) rounds. Can you switch fire, and shift fire, and get some arty rounds on those?

1336.47 MANILA HOTEL: Roger, I understand that those are the impacts you observed earlier on my timing?

1336.51 POPOV35: Affirmative.

1336.52 MANILA HOTEL: Roger, standby. Let me make sure they're not on another mission.

1336.57 POPOV36: Hey, I got a four ship. Looks like we got orange panels on them though. Do we have any friendlies up in this area?

1337.03 MANILA HOTEL: I understand that was north 800 metres.

1337.12 MANILA HOTEL: POPOV, understand that was north 800 metres?

1337.16 POPOV35: Confirm, north 800 metres. Confirm there are no friendlies this far north on the ground.

1337.21 MANILA HOTEL: That is an affirm. You are well clear of friendlies.

1337.25 POPOV35: Copy. I see multiple riveted vehicles. Some look like flatbed trucks and others are green vehicles. Can't quite make out the type. Look like may be ZIL157s [Russian made trucks used by Iraqi army].

1337.36 MANILA HOTEL: Roger. That matches our intel up there. And understand you also have the other fixed wing up this push? For terminal control, if you can.

1337.44 POPOV35: I'd love to. I didn't talk to him yet.

1337.46 MANILA HOTEL: Roger, I believe CASPER is up this push too. Two Super Tomcats.

1337.54 POPOV35: Hey dude.

1337.56 POPOV36: I got a four ship of vehicles that are evenly spaced along a road going north.

1338.04 POPOV36: Look down at your right, 2 o'clock, at 10 o'clock low, there is a, left 10 o'clock low, look down there north along that canal, right there. Coming up just south of the village.

1338.21 POPOV35: Evenly spaced? Where we strafed?

1338.23 POPOV36: No. No. Further east, further west, right now. And there's four or five of them right now heading up there.

1338.29 POPOV35: No, I don't have you visual.

1338.30 POPOV36: I'm back at your 6 - no factor.

1338.31 POPOV35: OK, now where's this canal?

1338.35 POPOV35: Don't hit those F18s that are out there.

1338.38 POPOV36: OK. Right underneath you. Right now, there's a canal that runs north/south. There's a small village, and there are vehicles that are spaced evenly there.

1338.49 POPOV36: They look like they have orange panels on though.

1338.51 POPOV35: He told me, he told me there's nobody north of here.

1338.52 POPOV36: I know. There, right on the river.

1338.53 POPOV35: I see vehicles though, might be our original dudes.

1339.09 POPOV36: They've got something orange on top of them.

1339.10 POPOV35: POPOV for MANILA 3, is MANILA 34 in this area?

1339.14 MANILA HOTEL: Say again?

1339.15 POPOV35: MANILA HOTEL, is MANILA 34 in this area?

1339.19 MANILA HOTEL: Negative. Understand they are well clear of that now.

1339.23 POPOV35: OK, copy. Like I said, multiple riveted vehicles. They look like flatbed trucks. Are those your targets?

1339.30 MANILA HOTEL: That's affirm.

1339.31 POPOV35: OK.

1339.34 POPOV36: Let me ask you one question.

1339.35 POPOV35: What's that?

1339.45 POPO36: (to MANILA HOTEL) Hey, tell me what type of rocket launchers you got up here.

1339.50 POPOV36: I think they're rocket launchers.

1339.52 MANILA HOTEL: . . . (garbled) You were stepped on, say again.

1339.54 POPOV35: MANILA HOTEL, fire your arty up that 800 metres north, and see how we do.

1340.01 MANILA HOTEL: Roger, standby for shot. They are getting adjustments to the guns now.

1340.34 POPOV35: Copy.

1340.09 POPOV36: Roll up your right wing and look right underneath you.

1340.12 POPOV35: (angry) I know what you're talking about.

1340.13 POPOV36: OK, well they got orange rockets on them.

1340.17 POPOV35: Orange rockets?

1340.17 POPOV36: Yeah, I think so.

1340.18 POPOV35: Let me look.

1340.26 POPOV35: We need to think about getting home.

1340.29 POPOV36: 3.6 is what it says (a fuel measurement).

1340.31 POPOV35: Yeah, I know. I'm talking time wise.

1340.35 POPOV36: I think killing these damn rocket launchers, it would be great.
(The tape then becomes garbled)

1340.52 MANILA HOTEL: Yeah, POPOV36, MANILA HOTEL. I've got other aircraft up this push. Not sure they're coming to me. Someone else might be working this freak.

1341.00 POPOV35: Yeah, MANILA34 is working them, break, break.

1340.12 POPOV36: Yeah, I see that, you see I'm going to roll down.

1340.15 MANILA 34: Break, be advised MANILA34 is not working the F18s unless they are trying to check in with me, over.

1341.21 POPOV35: Copy.

1341.24 POPOV36: OK, do you see the orange things on top of them?

1341.32 MANILA HOTEL: POPOV 36 from MANILA HOTEL. Are you able to switch to Crimson?

1341.37 POPOV36: POPOV 36 is rolling in.

1341.40 MANILA HOTEL: Tell you what.

1341.41 POPOV35: I'm coming off west. You roll in. It looks like they are exactly what we're talking about.

1341.49 POPOV36: We got visual.

1341.50 POPOV36: OK. I want to get that first one before he gets into town then.

1341.53 POPOV35: Get him - get him.

1341.55 POPOV36: All right, we got rocket launchers, it looks like. Number 2 is rolling in from the south to the north, and 2's in.

1342.04 POPOV35: Get it.

According to The Sun, POPOV36, then puts his A-10 into a dive to strafe the British column, destroying two Scimitar armoured vehicles and killing L/Cpl Hull.

1342.09 - GUNFIRE -

1342.18 POPOV35: I'm off your west.

1342.22 POPOV35: Good hits.

1342.29 POPOV36: Got a visual.

1342.30 POPOV35: I got a visual. You're at your high 10.

1342.31 POPOV36: Gotcha.

1342.30 POPOV36: That's what you think they are, right?

1342.39 POPOV35: It looks like it to me, and I got my goggles on them now.

1342.59 POPOV35: OK, I'm looking at getting down low at this.

1343.13 MANILA HOTEL: POPOV 36 from MANILA HOTEL, guns . . .

1343.17 MANILA HOTEL: To engage those targets in the revetts [slopes].

1343.24 POPOV36: It looks like he is hauling ass. Ha ha. Is that what you think they are?

1343.34 POPOV36: 1-2

1343.35 POPOV35: It doesn't look friendly.

1343.38 POPOV36: OK, I'm in again from the south.

1343.40 POPOV35: Ok.

1343.47 - GUNFIRE -


1344.09 POPOV35: POPOV 35, LIGHTNING 34 GO.

1344.12 LIGHTNING 34: Roger, POPOV. Be advised that in the 3122 and 3222 group box you have friendly armour in the area. Yellow, small armoured tanks. Just be advised.

1344.16 POPOV35: Ahh shit.

1344.19 P0POV35: Got a - got a smoke.

1344.21 LIGHTNING 34: Hey, POPOV34, abort your mission. You got a, looks we might have a blue on blue situation.

1344.25 POPOV35: Fuck. God bless it.

1344.29 POPOV35: POPOV 34.

1344.35 POPOV35: Fuck, fuck, fuck.

1344.36 MANILA 34: POPOV34, this is MANILA 34. Did you copy my last, over?

1344.39 POPOV35: I did.

1344.47 POPOV35: Confirm those are friendlies on that side of the canal.

1344.51 POPOV35: Shit.

1344.58 MANILA 34: Standby POPOV.

1345.04 POPOV36: God dammit.


1344.25 MANILA 34: OK POPOV. Just west of the 3-4 easting. On the berm up there, the 3422 area is where we have our friendlies, over.

1344.39 POPOV35: All right, POPOV 35 has smoke. Let me know how those friendlies are right now, please.

1344.45 MANILA 34: Roger, standby.

1344.49 POPOV35: Gotta go home dude.

1344.50 POPOV36: Yeah, I know. We're fucked.

1345.54 POPOV35: Shit.

1346.01 POPOV36: As you cross the circle, you are 3 o'clock low.

1346.03 POPOV35: Roger.

1346.12 POPOV35: POPOV 35 is bingo. Let us know what's happening.

13446.15 MANILA HOTEL: Roger. We are getting that information for you right now. Standby.

1346.20 POPOV36: Fuck.

1346.47 MANILA 34: POPOV, this is MANILA 34 over.

1346.51 POPOV35: Go.

1346.55 MANILA 34: POPOV 4, MANILA 34 over.

1347.01 POPOV35: Go.

1347.02 MANILA 34: We are getting an initial brief that there was one killed and one wounded, over.

1347.09 POPOV35: Copy. RTB (return to base).

1347.18 POPOV35: I'm going to be sick.

1347.24 POPOV36: Ah fuck.

1347.48 POPOV35: Did you hear?

1347.51 POPOV36: Yeah, this sucks.

1347.52 POPOV35: We're in jail, dude.

1347.59 POPOV36: Aaaahhhh.

1348.12 SKY CHIEF: MANILA this is SKY CHIEF over.

1348.18 MANILA34: This is MANILA 34, send SKY CHIEF.




1348.41 SKY CHIEF: Relaying for TWINACT, the A-10s are running against friendlies.

1348.47 COSTA58: POPOV 35, this is COSTA58. Relaying message for TWINACT. Abort, abort.

1348.54 SKY CHIEF: MANILA how copy A-10s are running against friendlies. Abort. Over.

1349.07 COSTA58: From TWINACT, abort, abort.

1349. 11 POPOV35: POPOV 35 aborting.

1349.14 COSTA58: We will relay that back to TWINACT.

1349.18 POPOV36: Fuck. God fucking shit.

1350.21 POPOV36: Dammit. Fucking damn it. 1351.17 P0POV36: God dammit. Fuck me dead (weeping).

1351.25 POPOV35: You with me?

1351.27 POPOV36: Yeah.

1351.30 POPOV35: They did say there were no friendlies.

1351.33 POPOV36: Yeah, I know that thing with the orange panels is going to screw us. They look like orange rockets on top.

1351.48 POPOV35: Your tape still on?

1351.49 POPOV36: Yeah.

1351.54 POPOV35: Mine is end of tape.

Transcript ends.


Anonym hat gesagt…

BBC, Friday, 9 February 2007, 14:31 GMT

US air strike kills Iraqi troops

Eight Iraqi soldiers have been killed and six wounded in a US air strike in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, local officials have said. The officials described Friday's incident as an act of "friendly fire", which hit an Iraqi army position in the east of the city.

The US military said five men were killed, and said the intended target had been a suspected al-Qaeda cell.

It expressed its "deepest sympathies" to the families of the dead.

The US said the attack was launched after its soldiers had identified armed men in a bunker near a building that was reportedly used for bomb-making.

The troops called for the men to put down their weapons in Arabic and Kurdish, before launching the strike, the US said.

It is not clear if a rocket was fired by a helicopter or a plane.

The men who died were all Kurdish.

One local official told the BBC that the victims were Peshmerga fighters.

Peshmergas spent decades resisting the Saddam Hussein regime.

Many joined the Iraqi army after he was ousted.

Anonym hat gesagt…

Soldier's friendly fire death 'unlawful'

by James Sturcke and agencies, Friday March 16, 2007, Guardian Unlimited

The death of Lance Corporal Matty Hull, who was killed by friendly fire when US fighter pilots attacked his convoy in Iraq, was criminally unlawful, a coroner ruled today.

Andrew Walker, the Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner, hit out at the failure of the US military to cooperate with his investigation, in particular its failure to allow cockpit footage of the incident to be shown in court or to give full details of evidence provided by US air controllers.

Mr Walker said the act was a "criminal one, since the pilots broke with the combat rules of engagement in failing to properly identify the vehicles and seek clearance before opening fire".

He said it would have been easy for the pilot who shot at the convoy to take steps to confirm the identity of the vehicles. In failing to do so he acted "outside the protection of the law of armed conflict".

"I find there was no lawful authority to fire on the convoy. The attack on the convoy therefore amounted to an assault. It was unlawful because there was no lawful reason for it and in that respect it was criminal."

L/Cpl Hull died and four other British soldiers were badly injured when the vehicles in which they were travelling came under fire from the pilots of two American A-10 planes just days after the Iraq invasion in 2003.

His widow, Susan, who has fought a long battle to establish the truth about her husband's death, burst into tears as Mr Walker delivered his verdict. After the ruling, she said it was "very disappointing" that the US president, George Bush, who she met in 2003 and who promised to help her, had not "followed through" on his offer.

"They [British and American forces] were all together serving [in Iraq]. But when it came to following up afterwards I think we were badly let down," Mrs Hull said.

Her lawyer, Geraldine McCool, who also represented families of British servicemen killed by US friendly fire during the 1991 Gulf war, said she had "not seen any evidence" that anything had changed in the intervening period.

The circumstances surrounding how the two part-time reservist pilots came to attack L/Cpl Hull's convoy despite it prominently displaying orange panels to identify itself as friendly have caused tensions between the close allies.

The US military has been accused of attempting to cover up embarrassing mistakes by classifying cockpit recordings of the incident as secret and refusing to make them or the pilots available to the inquest. Key passages of interviews with air controllers have also been kept from the coroner.

The Ministry of Defence said it was "very sorry for confusion and upset" caused over the inquest cockpit footage and vowed to make changes.

"We hope that the inquest has helped them gain a fuller understanding of the circumstances surrounding L/Cpl Hull's death," a spokesman said. "This inquest has highlighted the need for a more coherent approach to the management of documentation and evidence."

He said a dedicated team had been set up to liaise with coroners and bereaved families to ensure relevant documents were made available.

The contents of the cockpit tapes, which the MoD at one point said did not exist, gained a worldwide audience after they were leaked to the Sun newspaper.

The 15-minute recording (which can be seen here as Part 1 and Part 2) clearly shows that the pilots saw the orange markings on the convoy but decided they could have been enemy rocket launchers. When one pilot suggested a return to base, the other said: "I think killing these damn rocket launchers, it would be great."

The A10 pilots peppered the Scimitar and Spartan armoured reconnaissance vehicles with 30mm shells of depleted uranium. Although the convoy popped red smoke, a coalition identification symbol, the planes kept shooting.

L/Cpl Hull died three days before his 26th birthday. Two Iraqi civilians, who had been waving a large white flag, were also killed in the attack.

A subsequent US investigation concluded that the pilots, a lieutenant colonel and a major with no combat experience at the time of the incident, were not to blame. In the tapes they were told by controllers that no friendly forces were in their vicinity but were not given permission to open fire.

Major David Small, a spokesman for US central command, last month said the inquiry concluded the incident took place in a complex combat environment; that the pilots believed they were engaging enemy targets, and that they followed the appropriate procedures.