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August 19, 1981 – CBS Radio news + The World Tonight – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
August 19, 1981 – news for this day had much to do with an incident taking place of the Gulf of Sidra between American F-14 Tomcat Fighters and Russian-made MIG’s belonging to Libya. News was relatively slow in coming. The timeframe in question took place somewhere in the middle of the night for most people in the U.S. and reports were trickling in along with various conflicting claims and contrasting reports. Libya claimed the Americans were invading its airspace had strayed into territorial waters and that Libya had successfully shot down one of the F-14’s. State Department and DOD officials disputed the claim, charging the Kaddafi regime wildly asserted Libyan territorial waters extended way beyond any acknowledged distance, and that the U.S. had shot down two Libyan MIG’s with the loss of no U.S. planes and that the incident took place in international airspace. The bottom line was there was an incident underway and the likelihood of escalating action was underway.
Officials from the carrier USS Nimitz said the F-14’s were taking part in a routine exercise when they were fired on by two Libyan MIG’s. They said the F-14’s fired back and shot down the two planes with Sidewinder missiles. A Libyan official in London conceded the loss of the Libyan jets, saying one pilot was found in the sea and other was missing. Officials in Tripoli weren’t so eager to admit loss – instead saying the F-14’s had strayed into Libyan airspace and one was shot down by Libyan MIG’s. The officials went on to say the Reagan Administration had provoked the confrontation by holding maneuvers in what Libya claimed were its territorial waters. Spokesmen for the U.S. said they were aware of Libyan claims of the 200 mile limit from its shores, but rejected it.
And the claims and counter claims took up most of the news this day, even though there was much more going on, this August 19th in 1981 – and CBS Radio did their best to report everything on The World Tonight.