A rogue Russian pilot flying a Su-27 fighter jet tried to “shoot down” an RAF surveillance plane over international waters in 2022.
The pilot believed he had permission it has been claimed and fired two missiles, the first misses and was not a malfunction as previously claimed.
On 29 September 2022 Russia said the missiles that were fired was caused by a “technical malfunction,” but now three senior Western defence sources have told the BBC a very different account of events.
Read more on Russia-Ukraine war:
Putin warns UK of ‘serious consequences’ using special forces to try and ‘disrupt Russian nuclear power plants’
The RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft surveillance plane was flying in international waters over the Black Sea when the Russian fighter jet intercepted them.
The BBC was told that the Russian pilot fired an air-to-air missile which failed to lock on to the RAF plane, meaning it was a miss and not a malfunction the sources have claimed.
The second missile fell from the wing once released, which suggests the weapon had a malfunction or the launch was aborted, the sources told the BBC.
The second Russian pilot did not have permission and swore at his wingman when he fired the first missile.
The then British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told MPs on 20 October 2022 that this was a “potentially dangerous engagement.”
Wallace accepted Russia’s explanation, he said at the time, “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.”
However, secret intelligence documents that were leaked by US airman Jack Teixera said that the incident a was a “near shoot-down.”
The New York Times reported, “The incident was far more serious than originally portrayed and could have amounted to an act of war.”
The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in response to the leaked secret intelligence that a “significant proportion of the content of these reports [from the documents] is untrue, manipulated or both.”