Luckiest shot since 1918
London, March 25: If the American AH64D Longbow Apache, the world’s most advanced combat helicopter, really was brought down by an Iraqi farmer armed with a bolt-action rifle, as the Baghdad regime claims, he will be the world’s luckiest shot since Sgt Cedric Basset Popkin.
It was the Australian Sgt Popkin who in April 1918 noticed a German triplane flying over his position in France. Firing into the air with his rifle, incredibly he hit the pilot. The pilot was none other than the notorious German ace Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, scourge of the Royal Flying Corps.
the 1991 Gulf War, the AH64 flew almost 10,000 missions, and is credited with destroying 837 tanks and other armoured vehicles, 501 wheeled vehicles, 66 bunkers and radar sites, 12 helicopters on the ground, 10 fighters on the ground, 120 artillery sites and 42 SAM and AAA sites. Only one aircraft was reported lost in combat.
According to Paul Jackson, the editor of Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft, the Apache is designed to be able to withstand the impact of 23mm anti-aircraft fire. So the chances of being downed by a single shot are very slim, he said.
New York (Reuters): The New York Stock Exchange banned an Al-Jazeera reporter from its trading floor on Monday, saying it was restricting access to “responsible” networks, as the Arab satellite television channel faces criticism in the US for its coverage of the war in Iraq. The ban is “indefinite”. Al-Jazeera could not be contacted.
Washington (Reuters): US officials say the Iraqi leadership has drawn “a red line” around the map of Baghdad and once American troops cross it, Iraqi Republican Guards have been authorised to use chemical weapons, US television networks reported on Monday. The reports by CNN, NBC and CBS’s national security correspondent David Martin did not name the US officials or give any further details. A senior Pentagon source, however, said he could not confirm the reports.
London (Reuters): The US-led force in Iraq risks as many as 3,000 casualties in the Battle for Baghdad and Washington has underestimated the number of troops needed, a former commander from the 1991 Gulf War said. Retired US Gen Barry McCaffrey, commander of the 24th Infantry Division 12 years ago, said defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld had misjudged the nature of the conflict.
Paris (Reuters): French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin on Tuesday defended his country’s decision to maintain overflight rights for British and US military planes heading for Iraq in a war France staunchly opposes. “There are, as the French President has underlined, customs between allies that we should respect, and among those are overflight rights,” Villepin said in answer to a National Assembly deputy who asked why Paris was letting the planes use its airspace. “No Nato member, whatever its position with regard to the war, has questioned these (rights),” the minister said.