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December 5, 2023 1:51 am

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Pentagon Leaks: Russian Su-27 Nearly Shot Down British Rivet Joint Last Year



A composite picture exhibiting an RAF Rivet Joint and a Russian Su-27 over a Flightradar24 monitor (Picture The Aviationist)

Leaked Pentagon paperwork present a unique account of the incident over the Black Sea.

As we reported intimately final yr, in a press release updating MPs UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace stated {that a} Russian Su-27 Flanker “launched a missile within the neighborhood of the RAF Rivet Joint past visible vary” in what he described a “doubtlessly harmful engagement” occurred on Sept. 29, 2022, over the Black Sea.

On that day, a Royal Air Power RC-135W performing a routine surveillance patrol in worldwide airspace was intercepted by two armed Russian Su-27 Flanker jets that “interacted” with the British spyplane for about 90 minutes. At a sure level, one of many two fighters launched a missile. Wallace attributed the incident to “technical malfunction,” a model in settlement with the end result of the Russian investigation.

The route flown by ZZ664 on Sept. 29, 2022. (Picture from

Nonetheless, the shut encounter has been described in leaked U.S. army paperwork a part of the so-called Pentagon Leaks, as rather more harmful than beforehand reported. As explained by the Washington Post, the Pentagon doc, labeled “SECRET/NOFORN,” which is a classification that calls for its contents not be shared with non-US residents, refers back to the incident as a “near-shoot down of UK RJ,” the place “RJ” is a reference to a generally used nickname for the Rivet Joint spy aircraft.

Neither the British nor the Russian embassy did reply to a request and U.S. protection officers declined to remark, the WP stated.

In line with the paper, the leaked doc accommodates particulars of different shut encounters between Russian fighters and U.S. British and French plane between October and the tip of February. In a single such episodes, on Dec. 30, 2022, a British “Rivet Joint”, escorted by two plane RAF Typhoons, was intercepted by Russian planes that got here inside 30 meters of the RC-135W; on Mar. 14, 2023, a Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet and a US MQ-9 Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft had been concerned in an inflight collision over the Black Sea. The mid-air collision broken the American unmanned plane and the U.S. Air Power was compelled to ditch in worldwide waters. Because the footage launched within the days after the incident proved, the Su-27 hit the MQ-9 whereas dumping gasoline over the Reaper.

Since then, NATO manned and unmanned ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platforms have continued to function within the Black Sea area, although, most of them (at the least, these that may be tracked on-line on flight monitoring web sites and apps) have remained over land or quite distant from Crimea.

Anyway, the incident underscores the inherent threat of escalation that characterizes this sort of shut encounters: had it gone in another way, with the Russian Flanker downing a crewed NATO plane, the conflict might need compelled the U.S. and its allied right into a direct conflict with Russia. In truth, beneath the NATO treaty, if a member of the army alliance is the sufferer of an armed assault, all members of the alliance will think about it an assault and reply collectively.

Western army officers have up to now managed to assist the Ukrainian army and collect data with out being drawn immediately into the battle with Moscow: they’ve at all times stated that they help Kyiv however usually are not at conflict with Moscow. However the scenario would possibly escalate fairly quickly in case of incident.

Filmed from a Russian Su-30: U.S. RC-135W refuels from KC-135 over the Black Sea in June 2020. (Picture through Russian MOD).

David Cenciotti is a journalist primarily based in Rome, Italy. He’s the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of many world’s most well-known and skim army aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for main worldwide magazines, together with Air Forces Month-to-month, Fight Plane, and lots of others, overlaying aviation, protection, conflict, trade, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown a number of fight planes with totally different air forces. He’s a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Power, a non-public pilot and a graduate in Pc Engineering. He has written 5 books and contributed to many extra ones.


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