03.07.

1988: Americans Shoot Down Iranian Civilian Passenger, Killing 290 People

1988: Americans Shoot Down Iranian Civilian Passenger, Killing 290 People
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 3 July 1988
  • According to the United States government, they identified the Iranian civilian passenger as an F-14A Tomcat fighter, which is something akin to a paradox because the American “USS Vincennes” (its missile shot down the passenger) was a powerful Ticonderoga class cruiser, armed with the most modern AEGIS system at the time.

One of the most controversial military actions in history happened on this day in 1988.

The United States Navy guided missile cruiser “USS Vincennes” fired a missile at the Iranian civilian passenger aircraft, shot it down, and killed 290 people, including 66 children. To make things worse, the incident took place in Iranian airspace, on the flight’s usual flight path.

The cruiser entered the Iranian territorial waters, and violated the sovereignty of the country. According to the United States government, they identified the Iranian civilian passenger as the F-14A Tomcat fighter, which is something akin to a paradox because the American “USS Vincennes” (its missile shot down the passenger) was a powerful Ticonderoga class cruiser, armed with the most modern AEGIS system at the time.

It had 3D multi-function radar – the system was the pride of the U.S. Navy, and nicknamed “Shield of the Fleet”.

"Iran Air 655 Strait of hormuz 80" by User:Dual Freq - This image is a derivative work of [1] from [2], which was created by the w:Central Intelligence Agency in 1980 and hence is PD-US-Gov. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
“Iran Air 655 Strait of hormuz 80” by User:Dual Freq – This image is a derivative work of [1] from [2], which was created by the w:Central Intelligence Agency in 1980 and hence is PD-US-Gov. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The cruiser’s captain was William Rogers III, allegedly a very aggressive man. He ordered the firing of two RIM-66 Standard anti-aircraft missiles (Mach 3.5), which demolished the passenger airplane.

Allegedly, the Americans had previously issued a warning only one on frequency (121.5 MHz), but not on the frequencies used by the air traffic control.

After the fatal mistake, Captain Rogers remained the commander of “USS Vincennes”. George Bush the Elder gave him the Legion of Merit – a military award of the United States Armed Forces.

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