Russian Su-27 fighter jet almost shot down RAF spy plane: US intelligence leak

RC-135 Rivet Joint
Steve Meese/

A Royal Air Force reconnaissance plane was almost shot down by a Russian Su-27 fighter jet over the Black Sea in 2022, intelligence documents revealed.

On September 29, 2022, the RC-135 Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft was travelling through international airspace when it was approached by a number of Russian fighter jets.

The British Defense Minister, Ben Wallace, told the UK Parliament at the time that a Russian Su-27 fighter fired a missile near an RAF spy plane on patrol over the Black Sea. However, the UK government accepted the Russian explanation the incident was an accident.

“We do not consider this a deliberate escalation by the Russians,” Wallace told the Parliament on October 20, 2022. “Our analysts would concur it was a malfunction. However, it’s a reminder of quite how dangerous things can be when you choose to use your fighters in the manner that the Russians have done over many periods of time.”

New intelligence documents leaked in the United States (US) have revealed how close Russian missiles came to hitting the British plane.

According to the US files the incident was described as “a near-shoot down of UK RJ [Rivet Joint – ed. note].”

A British defense source disputed this version of events, telling The Guardian that these reports “contain inaccuracies and do not reflect what happened in international air space over the Black Sea.”

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