World news. According to information obtained by the BBC, a Russian pilot mistakenly believed he had authorization to fire on a surveillance plane flown by the Royal Air Force (RAF).
The pilot unleashed two missiles, the first of which did not hit its target despite what was stated at the time to have been a malfunction.
In September of 2018, Russia stated that the incident that occurred was the result of a “technical malfunction.”
The explanation provided by Russia was publicly acknowledged by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense (MoD).
However, three senior Western defense officials with knowledge of the incident have told the BBC that Russian communications that were intercepted by the RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft reveal an account that is considerably different from the official version. These sources were able to obtain this information from the incident.
On September 29 of the previous year, a plane from the Royal Air Force (RAF) carrying up to 30 people on board was conducting a reconnaissance operation over the Black Sea in international airspace when it came into contact with two Russian SU-27 fighter fighters.
Following an uncertain directive from a Russian ground station, one of the Russian pilots believed he had been given authorization to target the British aircraft, as shown by the intercepted transmissions.
The second Russian pilot, on the other hand, did not. When his wingman fired the first missile, he argued with him and cursed at him.
A large number of sensors are installed in the Rivet Joint in order to monitor and record communications. The crew of the RAF aircraft would have been able to listen in on the incident, which would have led to their own deaths had they not been alerted in time.
The Ministry of Defense will not make any of those exchanges’ specifics public.
A representative for the Ministry of Defense issued the following statement in response to the recent revelations: “Our intent has always been to protect the safety of our operations, avoid unnecessary escalation, and inform the public and the international community.”
The truth about what took place
A transmission was sent to the two Russian SU-27s by their ground station controller as they approached the spy plane flown by the Royal Air Force (RAF).
According to one western source who spoke to the BBC, the remarks that they heard were something along the lines of “you have the target.”
One of the Russian pilots took this confusing terminology to mean that they were given permission to fire their weapons.
According to the sources, the use of informal language appears to have demonstrated a significant degree of unprofessionalism by individuals concerned. On the other hand, NATO pilots are required to use extremely precise wording when requesting and responding to authorization to fire.
According to information received by the BBC, the Russian pilot fired an air-to-air missile, which was able to successfully launch but was unable to lock on to its intended target. It wasn’t a technical issue; it was just a failure.
According to individuals within the defense industry who spoke to the BBC, a dispute then erupted between the two Russian pilots.
It appeared to the pilot of the second SU-27 that they had not been given authorization to fire their weapons.
It is alleged that he cursed at his companion, effectively asking him what he thought he was doing by making the remark.
But despite this, the first pilot nonetheless let loose another missile.
We had been told that the second missile had just fallen off the wing, which led us to believe that the weapon had either failed to work properly or that the launch had been canceled.
According to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense, this took place.
After a delay of three weeks, the government of the United Kingdom finally acknowledged that the incident had taken place. The explanation given by the Russian Ministry of Defense at the time was that it was a “technical malfunction.”
Ben Wallace, who was serving as Defense Secretary at the time, issued a message to members of parliament on October 20 in which he referred to it as a “potentially dangerous engagement.”
On the other hand, he acknowledged the legitimacy of the Russian side of the story and stated, “We do not consider this incident to constitute a deliberate escalation on the part of the Russians, and our analysis concurs that it was due to a malfunction.”
A Russian fighter plane fired a missile in the vicinity of an RAF aircraft.
What the United States said took place
On the other hand, a covert intelligence disclosure revealed that the United States military presented the events in a more severe light.
The identical event was referred to as “a near shoot-down” in a number of documents that were uploaded online by US airman Jack Teixera.
According to a report from the New York Times, “the incident was far more serious than it was initially portrayed and could have amounted to an act of war.”
The publication cited two officials from the United States Department of Defense as saying that the Russian pilot had erroneously interpreted an order from the ground.
“Who’d locked on the British Aircraft, fired, but the missile did not launch properly,” said the Russian pilot.
The journal reportedly cited an unnamed official from the United States Department of Defense who described the occurrence as “very, very scary.”
In reaction to the news that was leaked about a “near shoot-down,” the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense issued a further statement that added more confusion than it did clarity.
According to the Ministry of Defense, “a significant proportion of the content of these reports [from the documents] is either untrue, manipulated, or both.”
Why is everything being kept a secret?
There could be a number of reasons why the Ministry of Defense in the UK was reluctant to release all of the facts.
To begin, the United Kingdom would prefer to keep the scope of its intelligence collecting and the specifics of the intercepted communications a secret from the public.
More crucially, neither side wanted the situation to escalate, because that would have increased the likelihood of a NATO member coming into direct military conflict with Russia.
However, the event demonstrates, once more, how a single error or miscalculation made by a single person can create a conflict that involves more parties.
According to a statement that was just released by the Ministry of Defense to the BBC, “this incident is a stark reminder of the potential consequences of Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine.”
It is not the first time that a reckless Russian pilot has targeted a NATO aircraft while it was flying in international airspace, but it is the most recent incident.
A Russian fighter jet shot down an unmanned surveillance drone flown by the United States while it was also traveling over the Black Sea in March of this year.
The Russian pilot who was involved in that incident was given a medal for his actions, but most experts feel that it was more due to luck than to his skills or judgments.
It raises significant concerns regarding the professionalism and discipline of the Russian Air Force.
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It is a credit to the bravery of the crews who nearly avoided a catastrophe that the Royal Air Force (RAF) has continued to undertake surveillance flights over the Black Sea despite the close call with being shot down.
Since the event, Royal Air Force (RAF) surveillance flights have been accompanied by fighter jets equipped with air-to-air missiles and flown by Typhoon aircraft.
The United Kingdom is the only NATO ally that sends sorties with crewed aircraft over the Black Sea.