A Russian fighter jet accidentally fired a missile ‘in the vicinity’ of a British spy plane above the Black Sea, the UK defense secretary has revealed.
Ben Wallace on Thursday said two Russian Su-27 fighters had ‘interacted’ with an RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint spy plane which was on patrol above international waters to the south of Crimea on Sept. 29 when one of them ‘released a missile’.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu blamed the incident on a technical malfunction and Britain does not believe it was a deliberate attempt to escalate, Mr. Wallace added.
However, the incident fuels fears that the war in Ukraine could escalate.
Ben Wallace said he had suspended spy flights after the incident, but they have now resumed with Typhoon fighter escorts
He accused Russia of using its fighters in a ‘reckless’ and ‘unnecessary’ way
Detailing what happened between the Russian fighter and the UK plane, Mr Wallace said: “On September 29 an unarmed RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint, a civilian-style aircraft on routine patrol over the Black Sea was interacted with by two Russian armed SU-27 fighter aircraft.
‘It is not unusual for aircraft to be shadowed and this day was no different.
‘During that interaction however, it transpired that one of the SU-27 aircraft released a missile in the vicinity of the RAF Rivet Joint beyond visual range.
‘The total time of the interaction between the Russian aircraft and the Rivet Joint was approximately 90 minutes.
‘The patrol completed and the aircraft returned to base.’
Mr Wallace told the Commons that Russia blamed the missile release on a ‘technical malfunction’.
‘ ‘In light of this potentially dangerous engagement, I have communicated my concerns directly to my Russian counterpart, Defense Minister Shoigu, and the chief of defense staff in Moscow.’
He added: ‘In my letter I made clear the aircraft was unarmed, in international airspace, and following a pre-notified flight path.
‘The reply by the Russian minister of defense on October 10 stated they have conducted an investigation into the circumstances of the incident and stated it was a technical malfunction of the SU-27 fighter.