Libya Is a Liar, U.S. Says, Cites Tape of Armed MIGs
The United States today accused Libya of lying to the world community and said it has photographic evidence that the two MIG jet fighters shot down Wednesday were armed and approaching Navy jets with hostile intent.
A Navy intelligence review of videotape shot by one of the F-14 Tomcat jets “tells me that the Libyan ambassador to the U.N. is a liar. That’s the first thing it tells me,” said Dan Howard, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman.
“They’ve gone out yesterday and said repeatedly that those were unarmed reconnaissance aircraft. Well, we have the pictures now that they were not unarmed aircraft,” Howard told a news briefing.
“They were obviously armed aircraft with obvious hostile intent. We believe that our aircraft commanders behaved in a prudent manner in defending themselves, in defending their aircraft and in defending their ship,” he said.
President Reagan, asked as he boarded a plane at Los Angeles International Airport about Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi’s statement accusing the United States of terrorism, said, “I haven’t believed what he said for a long time.”
Howard said one of the Navy jets’ two-man air crews had been flown to Washington overnight with the video footage shot by the jet’s target camera.
Debriefing of the two officers and a review of the video footage shows that the MIG-23 Flogger aircraft ignored evasive maneuvers by the Navy jets five times and kept turning toward the Americans, Howard said.
Even after the lead F-14 had fired two Sparrow missiles, the two MIGs did not break off their approach, he said, but turned and tried to jump on the second F-14, the spokesman said.
The first two Sparrows apparently did not strike their target. But a third Sparrow fired by the second F-14 claimed one of the MIGs, and the lead F-14 pounced on the rear of the other MIG and downed it with a heat-seeking Sidewinder missile, Howard said.
By the time the confrontation was over, the planes had flown as close as 1.5 miles to each other, he said.