Sad Irony if indeed Iran Shot Down Airliner

No one shoots down a civilian airliner knowing they are doing so though it might happen even in the US if it appeared another 9/11 was under way.

There is a sad irony (if indeed the Iranians did indeed mistakenly shoot down the Ukrainian airliner) after their experience of having one of their own airliners shot down by a US Navy missile cruiser.

This is described in great detail in our book Air Crashes and Miracle Landings. Initially there was a cover-up but finally the truth was revealed. It was partly a matter of a gung-ho captain chasing gunboats (speedboats) to be able to claim combat experience and a whole series of identification errors. The US Navy were in a quandary and had to treat him as a hero (for firing) lest other captains hesitate to save their vessels.

One wonders whether Iran might have been more forgiving had the US Navy had immediately apologized and offered compensation rather than attempted a cover-up. Might that have avoided the downing of the Pan Am 747 at Lockerbie?

There have been a number of cases where civilian aircraft have been shot down, and (with hindsight) mostly considered mistakes:

Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 (Feb. 21, 1973)

More than 100 people were killed when a Libyan flight traveling from Tripoli via Benghazi to Cairo was shot down by Israeli fighter planes and crashed into the Sinai desert.

Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (Sept. 1, 1983)

A Soviet fighter shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, which had been traveling from New York to Seoul via Anchorage, Alaska. All 269 people on board were killed. The flight was more than 300 miles off course and ventured into militarily sensitive Soviet airspace.

Iran Air Flight 655: (July 3, 1988)

[Link to extract from our book]

U.S. Navy missile cruiser USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 traveling from Bandar-e Abbas, Iran, to Dubai, UAE, as it traveled over the Strait of Hormuz, a strait between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. All 290 people on board died. The passenger plane, which was traveling in Iranian airspace, had been misidentified as a fighter jet, according to the United States.

While the U.S. asserted that the plane was outside the civilian corridor, this proved to be untrue. The U.S. government later apologized and after eight years said it would compensate the victims’ families, according to the Associated Press.

Siberia Airlines Flight 1812: (October 4, 2001)

Not all airliner shoot downs have occurred during times of war. The Ukrainian Air Force shot down Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 over the Black Sea in an apparent accident, killing 78 crew and passengers. The flight had been en route from Israel to Novosibirsk, Russia, and many of the passengers were Russian-born Israelis, according to the Associated Press.

Ukraine’s military initially denied responsibility for the incident, but later admitted that an errant missile from a military exercise on the Crimean peninsula could have cause the crash. Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Oleksander Kuzmuk, admitted that Ukrainian forces were involved and apologized to the victims’ friends and families.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17: (July 17, 2014)

In 2014, Ukraine was again the site of tragedy—this time, in the midst of conflict with Russia. Russian separatists shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 as it traveled over the Donetsk region in Eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people onboard. A subsequent investigation found that the plane had been downed by a warhead launched in eastern Ukraine by a Buk missile system.

Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 (Feb. 21, 1973)

More than 100 people were killed when a Libyan flight traveling from Tripoli via Benghazi to Cairo was shot down by Israeli fighter planes and crashed into the Sinai desert. The aircraft was about 100 miles off course.

Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (Sept. 1, 1983)

A Soviet fighter shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, which had been traveling from New York to Seoul via Anchorage, Alaska. All 269 people on board were killed. The flight was more than 300 miles off course and ventured into militarily sensitive Soviet airspace.

Iran Air Flight 655: (July 3, 1988)

U.S. Navy missile cruiser USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 traveling from Bandar-e Abbas, Iran, to Dubai, UAE, as it traveled over the Strait of Hormuz in Iranian airspace.

Siberia Airlines Flight 1812: (October 4, 2001)

The Ukrainian Air Force accidentally shot down Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 over the Black Sea killing 78 crew and passengers. There was no war at the time.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17: (July 17, 2014)

In 2014 in a period of tension with Russia, Russian separatists shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 as it traveled near the border in Eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people onboard. It was a Buk missile system from Russia able to reach great heights.

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