Russian pilot tries to shoot down British military plane

According to the BBC’s Sept. 14 report, citing three senior Western defense sources, a Russian fighter pilot attempted to shoot down a Royal Air Force (RAF) surveillance aircraft last year because he mistakenly believed he had been authorized to shoot it down.

According to information from the news agency, the RAF’s RC-135 Rivet Joint with a crew of up to 30 was on a surveillance flight over the Black Sea in international airspace on Sept. 29, 2022. There, it encountered two Russian Su-27 Flanker fighters. Based on intercepted radio transmissions recorded by the Rivet Joint, one of the Su-27 pilots received ambiguous instructions from ground control, which he misinterpreted as clearance to fire. As a result, he triggered an air-to-air missile strike on the British aircraft, but the missile missed its target and did not hit, the BBC reports, according to The Kyiv Independent.

Despite warnings from the pilot in the second Su-27, the Russian pilot attempted to fire a second missile, but it fell off the wing, indicating a malfunction or aborted launch. At the time, the Russian Defense Ministry attempted to explain the incident as a “technical failure.” Then-UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace called the incident a “potentially dangerous incident,” but accepted the explanation from Moscow. According to the so-called “Pentagon leaks” published on the Internet in the spring, the incident was classified by U.S. intelligence agencies as a “near shootdown” that could have potentially escalated into an armed conflict.

Image: Alex Beltyukov, Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-22M3 Beltyukov, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons, (no changes made)

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