F-16 Fighting Falcon News

U.S. F-16 fires on Patriot missile battery in friendly fire incident

March 25, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A U.S. F-16 fighter fired an anti-radiation missile at a Patriot missile battery in Iraq after the battery's radar locked on the jet. No casualties were reported.

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Monday's incident occurred about 30 miles south of Najaf. The F-16CJ block 50 fired an AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation (HARM) missile at the MIM-104 Patriot PAC-3 SAM battery and damaged its radar. The jet was involved in air combat operations and was on its way to a mission near Baghdad.

Officials said the incident was under investigation.

"We had a mishap, but we don't know what happened yet," said a U.S. Central Command spokesman. "We don't know if that Patriot battery is from Fort Bliss because we have a lot of units in the battlefield right now. We are reviewing the incident so we can find out what went wrong and prevent it from happening again."

It wasn't clear if an IFF* failure was responsible for the incident.

(*) IFF, also used in civil aviation, sends an automatic response when a radar system queries it.