One year after a Navy F-14 Tomcat shot down an Air Force reconnaissance jet, the Navy released a report that blames the accident on a "basic error in judgment" and "an illogical act" by the young fighter pilot.
The report, recently declassified under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, was obtained Wednesday. It tracks the findings of a previously released Air Force inquiry into the Sept. 22, 1987, loss of an RF-4C reconnaissance jet over the Mediterranean Sea.The two Air Force crewmen managed to eject and parachute to safety, but their twin-engine jet blew up and was lost at sea. It was shot out of the sky by an F-14 assigned to the carrier Saratoga.
Like his Air Force counterpart, the Navy investigating officer - Capt. J.W. Lovell - concluded the Navy and Air Force aviators had been engaged in a routine exercise before the F-14's pilot armed and fired a live Sidewinder missile.
The pilot, Lt. j.g. Timothy W. Dorsey, was 25 at the time and a rookie fighter pilot with just 245 hours of flight time in the F-14.
Lovell found that even though Dorsey earlier that day had concluded the RF-4C was a "friendly" plane and knew he was on an exercise, he reacted to a radio command from his carrier authorizing a simulated attack by doing the real thing.