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U.S. probes fate of pilot downed in 1991

Capt. Scott Speicher
Capt. Scott Speicher

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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A team of CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency analysts is preparing to enter Iraq to investigate the fate of Navy Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, shot down over Iraq on the first day of the first Persian Gulf War in January 1991, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

Speicher was once listed as "killed in action," but last year the Navy changed his status to "missing-captured."

The change was based on several factors, including:

• An analysis of the wreckage of his F/A-18 Hornet concluded he survived the initial damage to the aircraft and his ejection out of it.

• His flight suit, found near the wreckage and turned over by Iraq, showed no signs of a crash impact.

• A report from a Red Cross team that investigated the wreckage found the cockpit had been expertly dismantled; and intelligence information that suggested the Iraqi government might be able to account for him.

Baghdad has denied Speicher survived the attack.

U.S. officials told CNN that Speicher may not be alive, and the team's work will provide a final opportunity to find out.

Speicher was a lieutenant commander when he was shot down and has been promoted twice since then.

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