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Vladimir Putin's 'hotheaded' pilots threaten RAF spy planes on missions, analysis shows

NewsVladimir Putin's 'hotheaded' pilots threaten RAF spy planes on missions, analysis shows

“Hot headed” Russian fighters jets are facing off with British spy planes during flying missions over the Black Sea, analysis shows.

A US intelligence leak showed that one RAF plane marginally survived getting shot down in international air space south of Ukraine last year.

Now The Times reports that, despite this, British reconnaissance planes still fly regular sorties in the area but are now joined by Typhoon fighter jets from Akrotiri, an RAF base in Cyprus.

Hundreds of confidential US documents being leaked indicates a case that included a Russian fighter jet was more severe than originally acknowledged.

According to the leak on September 29 a Su-27 warplane pilot tried to fire a missile at an RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft flying over the Black Sea, when the pilot mistook a command from a radio operator.

Read more: Toddler killed by Russian missile strike as Putin cranks up assault

Defence secretary Ben Wallace told MPs at the time that the missile had been released “in the vicinity” of the aircraft, however the leak detailed the incident more severely as a ”near shoot down”.

The revelations have created revived concentration on Britain’s surveillance in an around Ukraine.

Rivet Joint have reached the air once in every 10 days so far in 2023, according to flight-tracking data.

There was an oddly elevated amount of activity in the days prior to the incident in September, with the aircraft going airborne on four missions in the space of a week.

The leaked documents also reveal that Russian fighter jets have responded to a minimum of six different reconnaissance flights by Nato allies since the incident.

According to John Foreman, who was British defence attaché in Russia until September last year, the bid to bring down a Rivet Joint aircraft makes it clear that Russia is getting increasingly “hot headed” in the Black Sea.

He added that paranoia in Russia had “gone off the scale” since HMS Defender, a Type 45 destroyer, travelled through occupied territorial water in Crimea in 2021, and a string of apparent humiliations in battle in the regions had improved the odds of errors.

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