There were a couple of incidence where passenger planes were mistaken for fighter jets or military aeroplanes and were brought down with missiles. I am skeptical that if we have such an accurate missile, that can hit passenger planes 7 miles in the sky, can't they really identify them as what type of planes they are? May be superior vision devices or rador may be or otherwise?

I am particularly referring to July 1988 incidence when US Carrier exploded an Iranian Airbus A300 by mistake (that it was F-14). Is it even possible to make such a blunder?

  • Do you have anyone claiming that such a misidentification is impossible, or is this just your personal doubts? Jul 22 '14 at 11:09
  • 1
    All they see on a radar is a point. They identify the type of the plane by a special ID signal it transmits. In that particular case, that signal on a Boeing was set up wrongly, plus for some reason they did not respond to repeated attempts of a contact and were flying straight at the Carrier. A bunch of ridiculous coincidences and some sloppiness of the airline/airport personnel lead to a tragedy.
    – sashkello
    Jul 22 '14 at 11:24
  • No, you can't see 7 miles in the sky very well, and not at all if there are clouds. The whole point of the radar system is to identify planes' positions in any weather with high precision. It does it job very very well, there will always be freak accidents, but they are extremely rare. Visual identification is unreliable, hard and unnecessary.
    – sashkello
    Jul 22 '14 at 11:28
  • 1
    Sashkello: My understanding was the IFF device from the civilian Boeing was configured correctly; it was the military that had their device misconfigured, and confused it with another vehicle on the ground along a similar bearing. See the links on the other answer for more info.
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 22 '14 at 13:37
  • @Oddthinking Hmm, I remember it from "Air Crash Investigations". Maybe I'm wrong. Will look it up.
    – sashkello
    Jul 22 '14 at 14:44

Browse other questions tagged .