Last September, an RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance and electronic warfare aircraft was intercepted by two Russian Su-27 fighter jets over the Black Sea. During the incident, the Russian planes wanted to open fire, but according to the explanation of the British Ministry of Defense, “the missile of the Russians failed,” so it was possible to avoid a serious escalation between the parties.
The BBC, based on three insider sources, has now published another article in which it is written:
the situation was much more serious and dangerous than it could be known based on the official explanations.
They write that the claim that the missile of the Russian fighter jets “failed” was Moscow’s explanation of the incident, which London accepted and forwarded to the audience. But that’s not what happened.
The Russian planes intercepted (began to follow) the British RC-135, then the air traffic control told them that
you are the target.”
This statement was misunderstood by one of the Russian pilots: he believed he had been ordered to open fire on the RC-135.
He also fired a rocket, however, this missed the mark.
According to the BBC, there was no “technical malpractice”, the shooting was intentional, all that happened was that the Russian missile missed the target.
Then the pilot of the other Su-27 began swearing at his comrade, questioning what he was doing.
Despite this, the Su-27 fired a second missile at the British plane, but it simply fell off the wing.
This could be the “technical malfunction” the British were talking about, but it could also be that the pilot suspended the launch after pressing the fuze. This is not known for sure.
Three weeks after the incident, then-British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said there was a “dangerous situation” over the Black Sea, but “the Russians did not want to escalate it deliberately.”
Later, the New York Times wrote that the situation was much more serious than Wallace claimed at the time, but even they mentioned technical errors.
The BBC says:
London probably covered up the matter on purpose, as neither they nor Moscow want an escalation, an open war between Russia and NATO.
More than 30 members of the British Air Force serve on board an RC-135 Rivet Joint. If they lost their lives due to a Russian missile, the event would have represented a serious risk of escalation.
Western officials speaking to the BBC also draw attention to the fact that the incident clearly shows the lack of professionalism of the Russian Air Force. The orders transmitted to NATO pilots are always clear: it cannot happen that someone “misunderstands” the order of his superior and “accidentally” opens fire on an aircraft he is following.
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