“Unauthorized Russian Pilot’s Attempt to Target RAF Aircraft in 2022”

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Russian Pilot’s Attempt to Shoot Down RAF Plane

Recent revelations indicate that a Russian pilot attempted to shoot down an RAF surveillance plane after believing they had received authorization to do so, in a stark escalation of an incident initially attributed to a “technical malfunction.”

Ambiguous Command Leads to Missile Launch

During the encounter on September 29th last year over the Black Sea, the RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft came into contact with two Russian SU-27 fighter jets. Intercepted communications reveal that an ambiguous command from a Russian ground station led one of the Russian pilots to believe he had permission to target the British aircraft. Consequently, the pilot released an air-to-air missile, which, contrary to previous claims of malfunction, successfully launched but failed to lock onto its target.

Row Between Russian Pilots

Following the missile launch, a dispute erupted between the two Russian pilots. The second SU-27 pilot disagreed with the decision to fire, leading to an exchange of words and expressions of disbelief.

UK MoD Accepts Russian Explanation

Three weeks after the incident, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) acknowledged the event but accepted the Russian Ministry of Defence’s explanation, attributing it to a “technical malfunction.” This official stance was reiterated by then-Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who stated that the incident did not constitute a deliberate escalation by Russia.

US Military Describes Incident as “Near Shoot-Down”

Contrary to the UK’s position, a secret intelligence leak revealed that the US military characterized the incident as a “near shoot-down” and a potential act of war. According to the leaked documents, the Russian pilot had misinterpreted a ground order, leading to the missile launch that did not proceed correctly.

Secrecy and the Potential for Escalation

The secrecy surrounding the incident likely stemmed from a desire to avoid publicizing intelligence gathering methods and to prevent an escalation that could involve a NATO member in a military confrontation with Russia. It underscores the risks associated with individual mistakes and miscalculations that could ignite a broader conflict.

Implications and Professionalism of Russia’s Air Force

The incident raises questions about the discipline and professionalism within Russia’s air force. Although no harm resulted in this case, it highlights the potential consequences of such actions.

RAF Continues Surveillance Flights

Despite the near-shootdown incident, the RAF has continued surveillance flights over the Black Sea, escorting them with Typhoon fighter jets armed with air-to-air missiles. The UK remains the sole NATO ally conducting crewed missions over the Black Sea.

The MoD’s statement emphasizes the significance of the incident as a reminder of the consequences of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

SOURCE: Ref Image from Evening Standard

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