Wednesday, June 22, 2005

U-2 Spy Plane Crashes Over "Southwest Asia"

The AP is reporting a statement from US Central Command to the effect that an American U-2 spy plane has gone down over what the military called "Southwest Asia" at 23:30 GMT Tuesday night. "The cause of the crash and the pilot's status were not known." A spokesman for the command center noted soon after the original statement "The specific location is not releasable due to host nation sensitivities."

If it's Iran, this could be bad. More as it comes in.

[Update: Judging from the "host nation sensitivities" line, Pakistan might be a more likely candidate for the location than Iran; but it still could be either country, or somewhere else entirely. If Iran, this comes just two days before a crucial presidential runoff election ... -- 9:16 a.m.]

[Update: The BBC has this story as its main front pager at the moment, and provides some background on the U-2. They note that "The site of the crash has been secured to ensure the safety of local citizens and the integrity of the site for the investigation team," indicating that the location could be somewhere like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, or perhaps one of the former Soviet republics (more accessible than Iran for investigation teams). -- 9:22 a.m.]

[Update: The BBC now reports that the pilot of the U-2 was killed in the crash, and a military statement said he was flying a mission "in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the US operation in Afghanistan." A spokesman for the 380th Expeditionary Wing said in a statement "The airmen of the [unit] mourn the loss of a true American hero in the service of his country." With this information, I would guess the possible locations narrow to Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, or Kyrgzstan, although Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan remain possibilities. -- 9:31 a.m.]

[Update: MSNBC reports that the plane was returning to a base in the United Arab Emirates, and that the crash happened as the pilot was landing at the base. -- 9:49 a.m.]

[Update: With MSNBC's report , which will likely be confirmed shortly by other news organizations and the military, (and after some very bad guesswork), I'm going to "stand down." The loss of the pilot is a tragic reminder, like those we get every day from Iraq and Afghanistan, that American men and women give their lives every day in carrying out missions around the world. -- 10:00 a.m.]


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