Syrian forces in Lebanon on December 7 handed over to the Lebanese army the body of US airman Mark Lange, whose A-6 bomber was shot down over Syrian-controlled territory three days before.
SV & CU Still photographs of Naval Lieutenant Mark Lange after his plane crashed behind Syrian lines. (3 SHOTS)
GV U.S. Carrier Eisenhower at sea off the coast of Lebanon.
SV & TV PAN A-6 Intruder aircraft onboard aircraft carrier and taking off and landing. (4 SHOTS)
SV A-14 Tomcat fighters in flight. (2 SHOTS)
CU Pilot in aircraft and SV A-6 aircraft on carrier flight deck. (2 SHOTS)
SV Wreckage of plane shot down in Lebanon recently. (4 SHOTS)
GV U.S. planes in flight formation.
NOTE TO EDITORS: THIS STORY HAS COMMENTARY BY NBC REPORTER IKE SEAMENS, WHICH MAY BE USED IF REQUIRED.
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Background: Syrian forces in Lebanon on December 7 handed over to the Lebanese army the body of US airman Mark Lange, whose A-6 bomber was shot down over Syrian-controlled territory three days before. Lange's plane was hit by Syrian SAM-7 missile while on a raid against Syrian positions in Lebanon's central mountains. The Lebanese army passed Lange's body to the US marine contingent in Beirut and it was later taken aboard the US aircraft carrier Eisenhower off the coast of Lebanon, for transfer back home. Lange and co-pilot Robert Goodman, who is being held prisoner by the Syrians, were flying an A-6 Intruder aircraft when they were shot down. The A-6, a plane that the US has kept in service since the 1960s, flies at subsonic speeds. Israeli Airforce officers have criticised the use of the A-6 and the tactics used in the US attack. They say a faster and more powerful plane, like the F-14 Tomcat should have flown the mission and they have criticised the dive-bombing tactics which resulted in two of the planes being shot down. The Israelis favour low level flights. Some Israelis have also claimed the US pilots were inexperienced. US Navy officers have refuted these charges. They say at least a third of the American pilots on the mission were combat veterans and claim the two planes were shot down simply because they did not expect to meet much tough Syrian anti-aircraft defences.