Iraq: December 23, 2002


At least one Iraqi warplane flew into the southern no-fly zone and shot down a Predator unmanned recon aircraft. This was not an extraordinary event. US and British warplanes do not patrol the no-fly zones every day. Iraqi aircraft have, in the past, entered the no fly zones, and only left when coalition warplanes took off and approached. So far this year, Iraqi aircraft have entered the no-fly zones fourteen times. The Predator is an easy target for a cannon equipped Iraqi aircraft. The Predator is slow and the pilot (on the ground, hundreds of kilometers distant) can't see all around as he could sitting in a cockpit. Most  Iraqi warplanes are grounded because of a spare parts shortage (prohibited by the UN embargo.) As a result, Iraqi pilots don't get much flying time, but even they could knock down a Predator. 


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