Russian Pilot Tried To Shoot Down British Plane Last Year, Contradicting ‘Technical Malfunction’ Explanation: Report

 A Russian pilot deliberately tried to shoot down a British Royal Air Force spy plane in 2022, according to a report from the BBC.

On September 29, a Russian SU-27 fighter jet deliberately fired two missiles at an RAF surveillance plane carrying 30 crew members — both of which never hit, according to the report. The update contradicts the previous explanation in which Russia brushed off the incident as a “technical malfunction” — an official narrative that the British Ministry of Defense went along with at the time.

The British plane — a Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint — encountered two Russian SU-27 fighter jets while flying a surveillance mission in international airspace over the Black Sea. The RAF plane was able to intercept communications from the Russians, in which they reportedly discovered one of the pilots had believed he was given the all-clear from the station on the ground to take the British plane down.

The BBC report cited a Western source saying the ground station’s message was essentially “you have the target,” prompting the pilot to take that as an all-clear to fire — which he did. The pilot successfully launched an air-to-air missile, but it failed to lock on target, the report notes — not a “technical malfunction,” but a miss. He released a second missile, which fell from the wing likely as a result of a malfunction or aborted launch, the outlet notes.

The other Russian pilot did not interpret the message that same way and reportedly swore and argued with the other pilot after releasing the first missile. The British Ministry of Defense is not releasing the details of intercepted communications, the BBC reports.

The Russian government claimed the near-miss was due to a “technical malfunction,” and the narrative was at least publicly accepted by the British, roughly three weeks after the fact. “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,” then-Minister of Defense Ben Wallace said in a letter to Parliament, calling the incident a “potentially dangerous engagement.”

Jack Teixeira, the alleged Pentagon leaker, reportedly leaked a document in April that called the incident a “near-shoot down of UK RJ.” Two U.S. officials told The New York Times at the time that the incident was more serious than the public had been led to believe, with one of them calling it “really, really scary.”

“A significant proportion of the content of these reports is untrue, manipulated, or both,” a British official told the Times in April regarding the leaked document. “We strongly caution against anybody taking the veracity of these claims at face value and would also advise them to take time to question the source and purpose of such leaks.”

According to the British outlet, there are a few reasons why the British government would want to keep the details of the close encounter secret. For one, they note that they likely wouldn’t want to reveal the extent of its intelligence-gathering capabilities, including intercepting communications. Or, the outlet speculates, Britain — a NATO member — simply wanted to avoid a major escalation.

A spokesperson for the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense told the BBC its goal has “always been to protect the safety of our operations, avoid unnecessary escalation and inform the public and international community.”


Today, British fighter jets armed with air-to-air missiles escort the surveillance flights over the Black Sea.

In March, a Russian fighter jet forced down a $32 million U.S. MQ-9 Reaper spy drone after dumping fuel on it and colliding with its propeller. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milly said at the time, “Incidents happen,” adding that the U.S. does “not seek armed conflict with Russia and I believe at this point we should investigate this incident and move on from there.”

Russian Pilot Tried To Shoot Down British Plane Last Year, Contradicting ‘Technical Malfunction’ Explanation: Report Russian Pilot Tried To Shoot Down British Plane Last Year, Contradicting ‘Technical Malfunction’ Explanation: Report Reviewed by Your Destination on September 15, 2023 Rating: 5

No comments