Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Caldwell: 'Sophisticated weaponry' probably brought down copter which killed 7

Insurgent video of the downing

BAGHDAD (AP) — A Sea Knight helicopter that crashed last week northwest of Baghdad was shot down, the U.S. military said Wednesday, reversing earlier statements that it appeared to have been due to mechanical failure.

The Marine CH-46 troop transport went down northwest of Baghdad on Feb. 7, killing all seven people on board, and an al-Qaeda-linked Sunni group claimed responsibility and aired a video.

Military officials initially said they believed the crash was due to mechanical failure, but the military announced Wednesday that an investigation showed the crash was "the result of anti-aircraft munitions."

"It was probably brought down by some sophisticated piece of weaponry," chief military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell told reporters.

A statement issued Wednesday said the pilots of an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter escorting the Sea Knight did not witness the actual attack, but they saw the fire, descent and subsequent crash. The initial signs resembled fires that have occurred aboard CH-46s experiencing mechanical difficulties in the past, it added.

The military also said the crash site had been cleared with explosives after the remains and equipment were removed "to ensure the enemy could yield no gain from the debris."

Read the rest at USA Today

Related Link:
Military: Insurgents step up attacks on copters; Reveal another Blackhawk downed last month

Related Link:
Source: At least 7 killed as CH-46 helicopter crashes between Baghdad and Fallujah