JERUSALEM (May. 21)
Three Egyptian Mig-21 jet fighter planes were shot down and one damaged in the Suez Canal area today in two separate attempts to cross into Israeli air space. One of the planes was shot down by an American ground-to-air Hawk missile, a military spokesman said.
The first incident took place north of Qantara when several Egyptian Migs attempted to photograph Israeli lines, the spokesman said. The Hawk missile zeroed in on the Mig and it exploded in mid-air. An eyewitness said the Mig virtually evaporated. The other Migs turned back. At the same time, a number of Migs appeared on the southern end of the Great Bitter Lake. Two Migs were shot down in a battle with Israeli Mirage fighters following a three-minute air to air battle, the spokesman said. Another plane, hit by ground-to-air missiles was seen losing altitude over Egyptian territory. In all, eight Egyptian Migs fought four Israeli Mirages over the lake.
Since the Six-Day War, 18 Egyptian planes have been shot down by Israelis–nine Mig 21s (including today’s), four Sukhoi bombers and five Mig 17s, Israel said. Six were shot down by anti-aircraft ground fire. Israel has lost three planes–two fighters and one Pipercub. A spokesman said all Israeli planes returned safely to their bases today. Cairo Radio denied that Egypt lost any planes.