[An interview with an Iranian pilot, Brigadier-General Shahram Rustami, about how Iranian Airbus was shot down by Americans due to a mistake in command control system.]
Rouhani says: Have you forgotten that you fired a missile against the innocent people in a passenger plane in the Gulf? And then you gave the medal and awards to the invaders and criminals in this incident?
Interviewer states: One of the most bitter incidents that took place when you were in charge was targeting Flight 655 of Iran Air. It belonged to Iran – the Iranian Airbus. In the beginning, Americans claimed that there was an interference between a military aircraft with a passenger plane. What do you think was the reality?
Brigadier-General Shahram Rustami explains: This is what I witnessed, and I followed up the issue exactly, and they closely recounted it to me. At that time, Iraq had attacked a place close to Bandar Abbas. From Iraq, Mirage Jet Fighters had fueled, and using the airspace of Saudis and southern countries, they had come. The small ships took the oil there [that region] and stored it in Bandar Abbas. Then larger ships came and transported the oil from there, and they didn’t have to come in. There was an attack against those oil tankers which were in Bandar Abbas region. As a result, we had deployed several F-14 Jet Fighters to Bandar Abbas to counter these attacks. On that day, there was a conflict down there with the Revolutionary Guards. American ship had an engagement with the Revolutionary Guards. F-14 had lined up on the runway to fly to the region to stop the aircrafts from going to others. But then there was a problem, and it had to pull out of the runway to fix the problem. Immediately, the Airbus had lined up and flown.
Interviewer adds: Bandar Abbas Airport was both military and civil.
Brigadier-General Shahram Rustami continues: One side was military and the other was civil. Immediately, Iran Air [flight] took the runway and flew. The same path where there was a conflict down below.
Interviewer adds: But it was flying in its usual corridor.
Brigadier-General Shahram Rustami confirms The usual corridor. But down below there was a conflict. In the ramp, they could hear; the Americans could hear as well. They had heard the line-up of F-14 – that the F-14 had lined up. At the time, there were talks that some Iranian pilots want to strike themselves [with their aircrafts] on U.S. fleet. Now put all these together. And USS Vincennes is there too. Iran Air flight is huge. F-14 aircraft is huge too. And on the radar, they almost look the same. Put all these together. There was a conflict down there. Vincennes was there too, seeing that an airplane was coming towards it at 13 to 14 thousand feet. Eventually, it fired its missile. Here again, it was our problem. In our system, it must be clear – be it during war or not – that who is in command. Right now, there is much talk about designing command control in such a way that all kinds of airplanes – passenger planes or military aircrafts – are all controlled by the same place. It cannot be controlled by two organizations. If at that time our air defense had been in charge, certainly it wouldn’t have permitted the Iran Air to fly, because there was a conflict down there. But everybody had done his own job separately, which has ended in a disaster.