In this excerpt, the American fighter pilots realize that they’ve fired on “friendly” troops. (Graphic language has been masked.)
A British inquest into the incident has been ongoing, and according to BBC News, the video had been classified “secret” by the United States.
It is unclear from the report in The Sun just how the tabloid, which offers a sensational deconstruction of events — including what it calls “six crucial errors” made by the two unidentified American pilots heard on the tape — managed to obtain the video. But it will apparently be entered as evidence when the inquest resumes in March.
From The Sun (caps and bolds are in the tabloid’s own report):
The “top secret” tape has been seen by the Oxfordshire coroner who is holding L/Cpl Hull’s inquest, but both the Ministry of Defence and the U.S. government have REFUSED to let him show it in court.
L/Cpl Hull’s widow Susan, of Wiltshire, was even told it did not exist.
She said last night: “I’m very relieved this is being made public at long last. I can’t believe these pilots can discuss what they’re doing so casually when these are the last moments of my husband’s life.”
Defence officials insist their hands were tied by a legal pledge with the Pentagon not to reveal any of their secrets. But we can reveal there is NOTHING secret on the tape. But it WILL cause appalling embarrassment.
Whatever the larger analysis — and the tape will now surely be exhaustively interpreted by military experts — the video itself is chilling stuff. At the outset of the apparent incident, one pilot can be heard asking if there are friendly forces in the area. He is assured by ground command that there are not and, after a long period of deliberation, the pilots open fire.
Just moments later, they are told that there are friendlies in the area, and the grim realization that they had just attacked an allied convoy — a “blue-on-blue” incident, in the vernacular of the military — begins to come clear.
“Abort your mission,” ground command can be heard saying only after it’s too late. “You got a, looks we might have a blue-on-blue situation.”
The mortified pilots curse repeatedly, and ask for information on the status of the convoy. Ground control comes back: “We are getting an initial brief that there was one killed and one wounded, over.”
A pilot is heard saying “I’m going to be sick.” Another says, “We’re going to jail dude.”