The Pentagon said today that a video camera on one of its assault planes employed in last December's Panama invasion recorded the mistaken bursts of "friendly fire" from the aircraft against U.S. Army ground forces trying to capture the headquarters of Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega.

Spokesman Pete Williams said an investigation has been unable to determine whether the 21 U.S. soldiers wounded in the attack were hit by U.S. rounds from the aircraft or by mortar rounds fired by Panamanian defenders.

Williams made the disclosure in response to allegations in Newsweek magazine that most of the U.S. soldiers injured in the invasion and nine of the 23 battle dead were victims of friendly fire. The Pentagon asserts that two and possibly three of the 23 deaths and 15 of the 311 battle-related injuries were caused by U.S. fire.

An additional 21 injuries occurred among servicemen from the Fifth Mechanized Brigade from Fort Polk, La., which was using two armored personnel carriers in an effort to take one of the buildings at Noriega's Comandancia.

On the tape, Williams said, "you see not only the AC-130 firing but you also see {Panamanian} mortar fire and antiaircraft fire, all that are hitting in the vicinity of these U.S. vehicles."

Asked whether the families of the friendly-fire fatalities and casualties have been notified, Williams said, "This is a very delicate question. . . . Some of the families involved have said to the Army, we don't want to know. And we'd prefer that you not tell us. So, obviously we're respecting the wishes of the family. But those who want to know have been told."