February 10, 2005

C-130 update

Nearly everyone is convinced at this point that the RAF C-130 brought down on Iraqi election day outside Balad was not brought down by any light surface-to-air missile. But there are still two competing theories.

*A senior American air force general believes the cause was small arms fire or a "lucky RPG."

*The British Sun newspaper is sticking with the bomb theory, having apparently established that the plane's entire wing came off in flight.

Like the Tarnak Farms fratricide incident, this open question would seem to be forensically solvable. If the plane was at a standard cruising altitude of 15,000 feet, an attack with small arms would be physically impossible... bringing us back to the bomb explanation as most likely. If the altitude at the time of the explosion was under 5,000, maybe, maybe you'd have a possibility of small arms fire (I'd bet on a 23 mm cannon, not an RPG, but we're talking the least remote of a large number of remote possibilities at that point) being the cause. One thing is sure: the British investigators in this case have the radar data, and probably on-board flight recorder data by this point, too. They know which option is more plausible already.

The American general is apparently basing his conclusion on the lack of an observed missile plume, and the near-instantaneous destruction of a four-prop plane in midflight.: two things that contra-indicate a shoulder-carried SAM.

Posted by BruceR at 09:15 AM