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Fri, Mar 07, 2003

US Violated Hungary's Airspace

Airspace Blunder Riles Civilians

Eszter Balázs, in the Budapest Sun, wrote, "Six US helicopters and a refuelling plane violated the sovereignty of Hungary when using the country’s airspace, Defense Minister Ferenc Juhász announced at an extraordinary session of the Parliamentary Defense Committee last Saturday."

Hungary was miffed at the February 20 incident, ostensibly attached to Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), and not having to do with Iraq's pending invasion. That means, to the US, that the operations were authorized by the UN, and should thus be approved by Hungary.

Bad weather closed in on the aircraft, and they had to land at the public Ferihegy airport in Budapest, instead of stopping at Hungary’s Taszár military base, the planned original end point. Civilians apparently wanted to know what was going on.

There was, by all accounts, a breakdown in communications, exacerbated by the civilian exposure to the US military craft; the US expressed regret for the missed communications. Hungary says the matter is closed.

FMI: www.defenselink.mil

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