Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Breaking News: Iran: "US Fighter Forced To Land" US Denies
(CNN) — U.S. military officials disputed Iranian media reports on Tuesday that Iranian fighter jets intercepted a U.S. military plane after it violated Iranian airspace.
Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency reported that the “Falcon fighter” was forced to land at an Iranian airport after entering the country’s airspace from Turkey at low altitude to evade radar.
Two top U.S. military officials told CNN’s Barbara Starr that no U.S. military aircraft has been forced down. But U.S. officials noted that the aircraft may have belonged to another government agency or perhaps the Iraqi government.
By Sky News SkyNews - 46 mins ago
A US fighter jet has been forced to land in Iran after violating the country's territory, according to an Iranian news agency.
The agency added that the incursion was unintentional, and those on board were questioned and released.
It said five senior US military officials were interrogated at an Iranian airport, but allowed to leave the following day after it became clear the incursion had been a mistake.
However, a Pentagon spokesman said it was unaware of any US warplanes being forced to land in Iran.
All US aircraft in the region have been accounted for.
Editor's note: No U.S. fighter aircraft seats 5.
Maybe the aircraft was a Dassault Falcon executive jet?
The Pentagon has denied Iranian reports that a US military aircraft violated its territory and was forced to land in the country.
"All aircraft in the region are accounted for and we have no reports of any aircraft landing in Iran," Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Ryder said.
"I haven't heard anything like that," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.
The semi-official Fars News Agency said five senior US military officials had been interrogated at an Iranian airport and released a day later after it became clear the US plane had not entered intentionally.
"After it became clear that they unintentionally entered Iran's air space and their destination was Afghanistan, they were allowed to leave Iran for Afghanistan," Fars said.
It did not say when the incident happened.
In an initial report, Fars described the aircraft as a warplane. But later called it a "Falcon", giving no further details.
Some US officials speculated the craft may have been a civilian plane because of the number of people reported to be on board, but they said they had no information about the incident.
Update: Iranian news reports claimed Tuesday that Iran forced down a Western aircraft that accidentally entered its airspace, then allowed the plane to continue to Afghanistan after questioning its passengers.
The state-owned Al-Alam, Iran's official Arabic-language television station, quoted an unidentified senior Iranian military official as saying the plane belonged either to a British or Hungarian relief agency. It said Iran forced the aircraft to land on Sunday and then permitted the passengers and crew to leave the following day.
White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, "We're looking into the various and conflicting reports coming from the Iranian `news' agencies, but do not have any information at this time that would lead us to believe they are correct."
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi said he had no information about the case. Other Iranian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The official quoted by Al-Alam said the plane "lost its way" and violated Iranian air space. He said the passengers _ who he said included American military personnel _ were questioned and that the plane was allowed to continue to Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, officials with the U.S. military, the American Embassy and the British Embassy said they had no information about a plane being forced down in Iran.
Initially, the semiofficial Fars news agency said the plane was American. Fars reported that the plane was carrying five military officials and three civilians from Turkey to Afghanistan when it "unintentionally" entered Iranian airspace.
According to the Fars report, Iranian fighters guided the plane to an Iranian airport, the passengers were questioned and a day later were released and allowed to continue to their destination.
Fars said the plane was a Falcon, apparently referring to a passenger aircraft manufactured by the French firm Dassault and primarily used by business executives. Dassault Falcon produces five jets with ranges from about 3,250 nautical to more than 4,000 nautical miles, with cabins that typically carry about six passengers and two crew members.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 7:06 AM