An American fighter pilot reported destroying an Iraqi jet in an engagement over Iraq today, saying he watched the enemy craft explode in “a huge fireball” after being struck by a missile.
Capt. Steve Tate of the 71st Fighter Squadron relayed the first report from a pilot of an aerial kill over Iraq. He said he was escorting a bombing mission early today when an Iraqi fighter jet suddenly appeared on his tail.
Tate, of Watersmeet, Mich., told a television pool that he maneuvered his F-15 fighter into position, established radar lock and fired his Fox-1 missile.
“I just let one Fox-1 go, and about four miles in front of me I get a huge fireball,” Tate said. “I get the missile coming off, which is a big flash coming off.
“When he blew up I could see a piece of the airplane blowing up,” said Tate. “It was at night, I couldn’t see a parachute or anything. It was a huge fireball, I don’t anticipate anyone getting out of that.”