2003 Baghdad DHL Attempted Shootdown Incident
On 22 November 2003, shortly after takeoff from Baghdad, Iraq, an Airbus A300 cargo plane owned by European Air Transport ("DHL") was struck on the left wing tip by a surface-to-air missile. Severe wing damage resulted in a fire and complete loss of hydraulic flight control systems. Because outboard left wing fuel tank 1A was full at takeoff, there was no fuel-air vapour explosion. Liquid jet fuel dropped away as 1A disintegrated. Inboard fuel tank 1 was pierced and leaking.
Returning to Baghdad, the three-man crew made an injury-free landing of the crippled aircraft, using differential engine thrust as the only pilot input. This is despite major damage to a wing, total loss of hydraulic control, a faster than safe landing speed and a ground path which veered off the runway surface and onto unprepared ground.
Paris Match Reporter Claudine Vernier-Palliez accompanied a Fedayeen commando unit on their strike mission against the DHL aircraft.
Sara Daniel, a French weekly newsmagazine journalist claimed receipt, from an unknown source, of a video that showed insurgents, faces concealed, firing a missile at the A300. Daniel was researching a feature about Iraqi resistance groups but she disclaimed any specific knowledge of the people who carried out the attack, despite being present at the moment of attack.
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