A UK newspaper has published the classified cockpit video of a March 2003 incident of alleged friendly fire by US Air Force Fairchild A- 10 Warthog ground-attack aircraft on an Allied tank convoy in Iraq that killed one UK soldier.The video,
obtained by The Sun newspaper
, shows the head-up display from one of the aircraft involved in the attack, during which a pilot identified as Popov36 notices orange markings used by Allied troops. A second pilot, callsign Manila Hotel, says the area is "free of friendlies" before authorising the attack. After the attack on the convoy, in which
Lance-Corporal of Horse (LCoH) Matthew Hull died, the pilots are heard discussing the possible ramifications of the blue-on-blue attack, suggesting they could end up in gaol for the bungled mission.
The tape has been at the centre of a diplomatic row with a UK medical examiner demanding the tapes be released for him to establish the cause of death in the inquest into LCoH Hull's death. The coroner's request has been refused by the US authorities stating that the tapes contain secret mission information.
The transcript published by the newspaper shows no mission details, leading some to believe US defence authorities are instead protecting the airmen, whose identities have not been revealed, from the threat of UK prosecution. Under US law, no serving military personnel can be subject to civil or criminal cases in other jurisdictions, the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in London, David Johnson, told BBC radio this morning.
Coroner Andrew Walker is understood now to believe that the video is now in the public domain and as such will be shown when the inquest resumes in March.
Click here to view the video clip of USAF A-10 Warthogs performing a direct hit on a UK tank convoy in Iraq in March 2003 from the website of The Sun