A Russian fighter jet fired a missile near a British RAF spy plane in a “dangerous” escalation over the Black Sea.
The unarmed RAF Rivet Joint RC-135W ‘nuke sniffer’ aircraft was on a routine patrol over the Black Sea, south of Crimea, on September 29, when it was chased by two Russian Su-27 fighter jets.
They tracked the British plane for 90 minutes before one of them opened fire, the British defense secretary told the House of Commons on Thursday.
The shocking escalation shows how dangerously the world is teetering on the brink of a third world war.
“On September 29, an unarmed RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint, a civilian aircraft on routine patrol over the Black Sea, was hit by two Russian armed SU-27 fighters,” Wallace said.
“It’s not uncommon for planes to be in the shade and this day was no different.
“However, during that interaction, it was found that one of the SU-27 aircraft fired a missile near the RAF Rivet Joint out of line of sight.
“The total time of the interaction between the Russian aircraft and the Rivet Joint was approximately 90 minutes.
“The patrol was completed and the aircraft returned to base.”
Wallace said the missile’s firing was a “technical malfunction” and was not considered intentional.
The UK Rivet Joint is known as a ‘nuke sniffer’ because it tests the atmosphere for radioactivity and can also read enemy communications from a long distance.
Wallace said he had spoken with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the Moscow Chief of Staff.
“In my letter, I made it clear that the aircraft was unarmed, in international airspace and following a pre-announced flight path,” said Mr Wallace.
“I thought it prudent to suspend these patrols until the Russian state has received a response.
“The reply from the Russian defense minister on October 10 stated that they were investigating the circumstances of the incident and that it was a technical malfunction of the SU-27 fighter.
“They also acknowledge that the incident took place in international airspace.”