CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Showdown Iraq: Guns and Ammo, F-14 Fighter Jet
Aired November 1, 2002 - 12:14 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: More now on how U.S. troops are preparing for a possible war.
CNN's Kyra Phillips is on the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're here in the Hangar Bay 3 on the USS Abraham Lincoln. A lot of things on the pilots' minds here as we're in the combat theater.
First of all, the mission of the strike fighter pilots here, of course, is to support Operation Southern Watch. But also on their minds: Will the U.S. go to war with Iraq?
We're going to bring in Lieutenant Lucas Gadar (ph). He's an F- 14 pilot with the Tomcatters. Thanks for being with us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Kyra. It's my pleasure.
PHILLIPS: Well, let's talk about the capabilities of this aircraft, OK? Give us a bit of a tour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. Behind me here, we have an F-14D Super Tomcat. Its primary mission is air superiority, fighter interceptor, and that's what near and dear to our heart; that's what we like to do. However, it's also an incredibly capable strike platform. So, we've taken that role under our wing.
You couple that with our capability to do tactical reconnaissance, and what you have is an aircraft with an avionics package and a blend of missions that can't be challenged really, so...
PHILLIPS: Now we're going to put this in layman terms a bit, OK? You've gotten technical on me. Let's get specific. Come up here, and you were pointing this out, important weapons capability, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. We carry a variety of weapons, from long-range missiles, intermediate-range missiles, short-range missiles, and then we have a gun for if it gets real close. Here, you can see exposed is a 20-millimeter cannon. We use this for air-to-air gunnery if we need to. We can also use it to strafe (ph) air-to- ground targets. It's just one of the many weapons systems we carry.
PHILLIPS: Now, you're out here in support of Operation Southern Watch, making sure Saddam Hussein complies with U.N. resolutions. However, also lingering in everyone's minds here is the possible war with Iraq. Are you walking on egg shells? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a good way to put it, if you will. Right now, I'd say we're maintaining a status quo. We're keeping our national resolution in theater, our posture, if you will. Right now, it's kind of difficult. Our hands are -- we're handcuffed in a way in how we operate, because we have to be careful not to do the wrong thing, always do the right thing, and quite frankly, we just do that through our professionalism.
PHILLIPS: So, how do you do that? Because you're flying in the no-fly zone, and yet, you're being fired upon on a -- I don't know if I should say a regular basis, but quite often. So, how do you keep this all in perspective?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we take it day by day. We get our direction from people who are above us. We operate in a manner and a fashion that they want us to. We do it with, like I said, professionalism. And our training and our maintainers, like you see on this jet right now, provide national assets for us that can't be beat.
PHILLIPS: We'll continue to follow how the pilots here and everyone on the USS Abraham Lincoln is not only supporting Operation Southern Watch, but also thinking about a potential war with Iraq.
Back to you.
BLITZER: Kyra Phillips aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf -- thanks very much, Kyra, for that good report.
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