Back on 8th July 1991, a US Navy Grumman E-2C Hawkeye early warning and control craft was shot down by a US Navy McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet nearly 40 miles southeast of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The Hornet used its M61A1 20-mm Vulcan cannon to hit the Hawkeye. No casualties were recorded. An important thing to note here is that it was not an accident but the call was made deliberately.
The Hawkeye belonged to Carrier Early Warning Squadron ONE TWO TWO Steel jaws. It experienced an in-flight fire in its starboard side Allison T-56-A427 turboprop engine during a routine monitoring mission while being part of the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal. It was in the area as part of the forces committed to Operation Provide Comfort. The aircraft’s onboard fire suspension systems were unable to extinguish the fire. There were few options available to them and the Hawkeye’s crew, which was in serious danger, had to make a quick decision.
The Hawkeye carried a crew of five pilots and copilot along with three system operators. They knew that the aircraft was not recoverable and feared that the E-2C might fly into a populated area before coming down on its own, the aircraft commander gave the order to the crew to exit the aircraft via parachute. As soon as the crew left the plane, a VFA-132 Privateers F/A-18C Hornet shot down the Hawkeye. All the crew members were rescued with no injuries.
Must be a pretty tough call for the commanders to shoot down one of their own!