Utah congressmen strongly defended the Navy pilots who shot down two Libyan fighters Wednesday.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said, "Our pilots had no choice" because they reportedly tried to disengage the Libyans six times, had indications that the Libyans had a radar fix on them to attack and were "approaching in a menacing manner.""I don't see how we could expect our pilots . . . to do anything except what they did do," he said.
Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, a member of the House Armed Service Committee, said Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is "playing deadly war games and can't go around harassing Americans," according to his press secretary, Kathleene Gallegos.
Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, said: "It's always unfortunate when something like this happens. But from all the information I have seen, our planes shot in self-defense. The other planes did not identify themselves and came in a menacing manner."
Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, said the American pilots responded appropriately.
Many have speculated that the shooting down of the planes could be a step toward a U.S. attack against Libya for construction of what the United States says is a chemical weapons plant. Hatch disagrees and said training maneuvers by the Navy off the Libyan coast are not related to concern about the chemical arms plant.
And he said the best way to handle concern about that plant is to seek United Nations intervention and inspections to ensure chemical arms are not being produced there.