Skip to main content
CNN International EditionWorld
The Web     
Powered by
On The Scene

Karl Penhaul: Iraqis thwart U.S. copter mission

CNN's Karl Penhaul
CNN's Karl Penhaul

Story Tools

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

(CNN) -- Iraqi TV on Monday aired pictures of what appeared to be a U.S. Army helicopter, intact and upright. Viewers could also see Iraqis displaying helmets apparently belonging to the crew of that aircraft.

U.S. Central Command confirmed that a high-tech Apache attack helicopter was missing after a three-hour battle with a division of the elite Republican Guard about 50 miles south of Baghdad, and said the fate of the crew was unclear.

CNN Correspondent Karl Penhaul, embedded with the U.S. Army's V Corps, 11th Attack Helicopter Regiment, talked to CNN Anchor Paula Zahn by phone Monday morning about the battle.

PENHAUL: The Apache helicopters were in action overnight. They encountered Iraq about midnight and returned about three hours later. I was flying on a command and control helicopter following the first company of those attack helicopters into battle. The mission for the helicopters was supposedly to attack the [Iraqi] 2nd Armored Brigade as part of the division.

They were to destroy 72 tanks and artillery pieces. Nevertheless, what happened in practice was that they flew into the area where they were due to start the battle. The helicopter came under very heavy anti-aircraft and artillery fire. Some of that they're telling me [Monday] morning did not only come from military gun and placements around the area but also came from residential areas.

They have their fears now that one of the strategies is either to place military emplacements in residential areas or civilians themselves have declared open season on coalition aircraft flying in the area.

ZAHN: Once they encounter the stiff resistance, were any able to tell you whether they completed their objectives?

PENHAUL: I was talking to many of them [Monday] morning. They were showing me their aircraft that they successfully got back to the base here. Most of those aircraft do show evidence of gunshot impact -- some of them obviously impacts from fairly small arms fire from the rifles and such like. Others show signs that they were from larger rounds, possibly anti-aircraft.

Most of these pilots tell me they were not able to complete their mission and attack the Republican Guard. Most of the time they spent in that battle zone, defending themselves and trying to get out alive. ...

ZAHN: I can tell [viewers] from [Karl's] earlier report, he talked to a couple of pilots. It was like being in a hornet's nest, with fire coming from all sides, and in some cases, the pilot said they sustained 15 to 20 rounds.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This report was written in accordance with Pentagon ground rules allowing so-called embedded reporting, in which journalists join deployed troops. Among the rules accepted by all participating news organizations is an agreement not to disclose sensitive operational details.

Story Tools
Click Here to try 4 Free Trial Issues of Time! cover
Top Stories
Iran poll to go to run-off
Top Stories
EU 'crisis' after summit failure

On CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNN AvantGo CNNtext Ad info Preferences
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.