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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Iraq Claims Downing of U.S. Spy Plane

Aired August 27, 2001 - 07:01   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to live to Washington, where CNN's Jamie McIntyre, our Pentagon correspondent, has been working on some breaking news.

Iraqi officials are claiming they have shot down a U.S. reconnaissance plane.

Jamie, what do you know about this so far?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there may be a grain of truth into this. But Pentagon officials tell me this morning that no manned aircraft have been lost over Iraq -- that all of the pilots patrolling the no-fly zone have returned safely to their base.

What has happened, though, is the Pentagon has lost a data link with an unmanned aerial vehicle. These are small drone spy planes that the United States uses to conduct reconnaissance over Iraq. They -- Iraq has in the past looked like it has been trying to shoot down one of those planes with some of their aircraft. Unlike the no-fly zone patrols, these small planes -- one of them is called a Predator -- are -- have a small wingspan, about 10 or 12 feet. They fly very low to the ground so they can take pictures and send them back by remote data link.

And as I said, this morning Pentagon officials say they believe they have lost a data link to one of those small, unmanned spy planes. So it's possible that it crashed in Iraq or maybe was even shot down by Iraqi gunners. But the Pentagon doesn't know at this point. They are checking that out. But again, they say all of their manned aircraft have returned safely, and that no manned aircraft have been shot down over Iraq.

LIN: That is good news indeed.

Jamie, we are hearing that Iraqi television is going to be airing pictures of the aftermath.

What are you hearing?

MCINTYRE: Well, if they do air those pictures, that will give us a better idea of whether or not there is any truth to the claim.

Now, you know, Iraq has claimed on numerous occasions to have shot down U.S. or British planes. And in the past, all of those claims have turned out to be untrue. They have also in the past shown video of wreckage or a bomb aftermath that was not -- that we were able to determine later was not what they said it was. So their track record and credibility is not very good. But if, in fact, the United States has lost one of these small unmanned aerial vehicles, and it has crashed in Iraq and they show video of it, it may help us piece the story together.

The U.S. will know probably within a matter of hours whether or not they did lose one of these unmanned planes. And, of course, the whole reason of sending these unmanned planes up is to eliminate the risk of pilots for these kinds of reconnaissance missions over a dangerous area.

LIN: Sure. Jamie McIntyre, senior Pentagon correspondent -- thanks so much for bringing us up to date. And as soon as we get those pictures in of the aftermath, we'll bring them to you.

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