It has now been revealed that a fully manned RAF plane came dangerously close to being shot down when a Russian pilot fired missiles due to a breakdown in communication.
According to the BBC, the pilot fired two missiles, the first of which missed its target rather than malfunctioning as was initially alleged.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) formally endorsed the Russian explanation after it was made public that the incident in September of last year was the result of a “technical malfunction.”
Senior Western defense officials, however, have since informed the BBC that this was untrue.
Russian communications intercepted by the RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft, according to sources, provide a substantially different story from the one provided by the government.
On September 29 of last year, an RAF aircraft was conducting a surveillance mission over the Black Sea in international airspace when it came into contact with two Russian SU-27 fighter aircraft.
Following a murky order from a Russian ground station, one of the Russian pilots believed he had been given authorization to target the British aircraft, according to intercepted conversations.
The second Russian pilot, nevertheless, did not. When he launched the first missile, he argued with and cursed at his wingman.
There are many sensors on the Rivet Joint that can eavesdrop on conversations. The incident that might have led to their own deaths would have been audible to the RAF crew.
The MoD won’t make those exchanges’ specifics public. A representative for the MoD responded to these recent discoveries by saying, “Our intent has always been to protect the safety of our operations, avoid unnecessary escalation, and inform the public and international community.”