Russian fighter jet ‘tried to shoot down RAF plane but malfunction forced missile to miss’, leaked docs reveal | The Sun

A BRITISH spy plane was only saved from being shot down by the Russians when a missile malfunctioned, leaked spy documents show.

What would have been an act of war was narrowly averted after one of Vladimir Putin’s pilots locked onto to the RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint, which has a crew of up to 30.

The Russian jet was flying above the Black Sea when its pilot believed he had permission to fire, according to the secret US intelligence report.

Last year Defence Secretary Ben Wallace revealed some details of the incident and at the time he blamed the missile launch on a "technical malfunction" with the Su-27 fighter.

But the seriousness of the encounter has emerged as fresh details trickle out of from the leaks, which have been shared on Twitter and on Telegram.

The documents show that in their account of the incident, US defence officials say the Russian pilot misinterpreted what a radar operator on the ground was saying to him, the New York Times reports.


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He thought he had permission to fire, locked onto the spy plane and launched a missile, during the September 29 incident.

Fortunately the missile malfunctioned and a potentially catastrophic incident was averted.

One of the officials who was briefed on the encounter described what happened as “really, really scary.”

At the time the Defence Secretary told MPs how the unarmed RAF Rivet Joint was on routine patrol in international airspace in September when it was tailed by two Su-27 fighter jets.

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Mr Wallace then revealed that during the 90-minute interaction off the coast of Ukraine one of the Su-27s fired a missile near the RAF plane.

At the weekend The Washington Post reported the classified documents referred to the incident as a “near-shoot down of UK RJ" – which is the name of the fighter jet.

The Ministry of Defence has, however, strenuously denied the account of the incident revealed in the documents.

“A significant proportion of the content of these reports is untrue, manipulated, or both,” said an MoD official.

“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.”

The RAF RC-135W soaks up enemy signals and is nicknamed the ‘nuke sniffer’ for its ability to also detect radiation.

The four-engine jets are used by Britain to conduct electronic surveillance on enemy targets by monitoring signals from radars and other systems.

Fresh revelations about the incident come after a US drone was taken down while flying over the Black Sea near Russian occupied Crimea and the Ukraine frontline.

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A Russian Su-27 jet struck the propeller of the MQ-9 Reaper drone resulting in it crash landing in the sea and its loss, the US European Command said.

Prior to the collision, which happened at 7am local time, two Su-27s had "dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9" in a "reckless" and "unprofessional" manner.

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