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Iraq Says Pilot Received No Messages From Stark

May 28, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — The Iraqi pilot who hit the U.S. frigate Stark with two missiles told his government he did not hear any radioed warnings from the vessel before firing his weapons, a congressman investigating the incident said today.

Rep. Bill Nichols (D-Ala.), chairman of the Armed Services investigations subcommittee, told reporters after a briefing by members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Iraqi officials also said it was a single plane, reconfigured to take one Exocet missile under each wing, that carried out the attack.

There had been speculation that two planes were involved in the May 17 attack.

"It's our understanding that the Iraqi pilot has been interviewed and he has given . . . to the Iraqis certain information as to what he heard or didn't hear in the way of messages, and he claims he never received a message, he did not hear any message," Nichols said.

Nichols said the first missile was fired 22 miles from the Stark in the Persian Gulf and "the second missile was fired some seven seconds later at about 15 miles. We're given to understand that it did come from one plane."

The missiles slammed into the frigate, killing 37 sailors and touching off a series of events now headed toward putting Kuwaiti oil tankers under the U.S. flag and providing U.S. Navy escorts.

Nichols also said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. William Crowe, was expected to meet later today to discuss changes in the rules of engagement that give on-the-scene military officers guidance on when they can and cannot fire their weapons.

Nichols also said the Navy told subcommittee members that the Stark's Phalanx missile defense system had been repaired a day or two before the attack and "they thought they had it fixed."

Others at the briefing said that even if the system was working properly and had been turned on when the first missile was spotted visually, it was unlikely it or any other ship could have successfully shot down the missile.

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