THE GERMAN NAVY IS blaming sun-blindness for an incident in, which a civilian ship at the edge of a firing range in the western Baltic was accidentally bombed by a naval Panavia Tornado.

According to the Federal Ministry of Defence, the incident occurred on 9 February, when two Tornado crews from the second naval wing, based at Eggebeck, were practice-bombing a floating pyramid-target at the Schenhagen range at about 14.30, with the Sun low on the horizon.

The lead crew had adjusted its flight pattern, to allow the number two Tornado to close up, as the pair were about to begin dive-bombing runs with BDU 33 slick practice-bombs.

On the base leg in its new pattern, the lead aircraft was flying directly into the sun, with glare and surface reflection coming through the head-up display.

With little time to identify the target, the Tornado pilot mistakenly hit the Government-owned vessel Kormoran, which was maintaining buoys marking the edge of the firing range, with two 11kg bombs. The Kormoran's three-man crew, were unhurt.

The Ministry says that the vessel, which was 1.5km (0.8nm) away from the aircraft's intended target, has a silhouette which could have been mistaken for the practice target under these circumstances.

Source: Flight International