Rogue Russian Pilot Tried To Shoot Down British Rivet Joint: Report


The BBC is reporting that a reckless Russian fighter pilot did his best to shoot down a British Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft in 2022, but bad luck and bad equipment prevented a major international incident. The Rivet Joint, which gathers and analyzes electromagnetic signals intelligence, was patrolling the Black Sea last October when two Su-27s intercepted it. BBC says its sources said one of the Russian pilots thought he’d been given the order to destroy the high-value reconnaissance aircraft and its 30-member crew, so he gave it his best shot. The first air-to-air missile he fired missed and the second malfunctioned and fell harmlessly off his aircraft’s wing.

At the time, U.K. government officials downplayed the seriousness of the incident at least in public. Although the then-Defence Secretary Ben Wallace called the incident a “potentially dangerous engagement,” he later said he accepted the Russian explanation that it was “due to a malfunction.” Meanwhile, according to documents released online by U.S. airman Jack Teixera, U.S. officials were calling it a “near shoot-down.” RAF surveillance aircraft are now escorted by Typhoon fighters, the BBC said.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. A major international incident?
    Excuse me, but using UK/USA military assets in not-out-war is NOT considered creating an international incident?

    • “not-out-war” I think you need to go back to your Russian to English dictionary and try rewriting your sentence.

      • No, I needed to go back and edit a misspelling but this site is what it is.

        As far as rules, this was not a passenger aircraft; it is a plane of war in a war zone. Rules in a war are to stop spies. Honestly I think Russia weighed the options and showed good restraint.

    • The game has rules. International air space flights are out of bounds.
      Adults should understand these things.

    • That’s the thing, it’s a local war.
      It’s as if the UK/USA are the ones enabling “an international” (world) war.

  2. I am sure the RAF is neutered as much as the US Air Force is. With Brown confirmed yesterday to take Milly’s place, it will get worse.

  3. @luckyfivetwo. US Air Force “neutered?” By whom? It’s the strongest and most robust air force in the world. You come off as a know-nothing right-wing zealot or maybe a racist–or both.

  4. Milly looks like a general straight out of Hollywood central casting, with as much capability as an actor. Complete political yes man.

    Thanks for the quality Afgan withdraw Mark!

  5. It appears we’re back to the bad old days of the Cold War. Is it only a matter of time until the next KAL 007 type shootdown?

  6. I think everyone collectively dodged a huge bullet both literally and figuratively. Events like this are how things spiral out of control. A shoot down of a NATO asset with the loss of 30 crew would demand a response, which could easily turn into escalating series of more and more consequential military actions.

      • You mean that China and Russia should operate aircraft only within their own airspace? Your concept of power projection became antedated by the writings of Sun Tzu, a few centuries BC.

        Unfortunately your pseudonym is the name of an immensely famous American auto racing figure. Your poor command of the English language indicates that you are someone other than AJ Foyt.

      • Russia, USA, UK and many others operate “intelligence gathering” aircraft in international airspace “near unfriendly” nations, that is normal and routine. Shooting one down unprovoked in not.

      • It was operating in international airspace, not the airspace belonging to a particular country, NATO or not. Don’t let facts get in the way of a spray.

        • Said it before about the poster in question. Don’t feed the troll.

          Nothing worthy of a response ever comes from the “Arthur J Foyt” account.

          Guess I just broke my own rule….

          • The UK was flying a “surveillance mission” (basically being a spy plane during a hot war). If the UK brings military assets to a hot war to be part of that hot war, then they ARE part of the war. Denying that is denying facts.

  7. When both sides elect to keep an incident low key it typically means something about the circumstances reflects poorly on both 🙂

  8. “…he gave it his best shot. The first air-to-air missile he fired missed and the second malfunctioned and fell harmlessly off his aircraft’s wing.”

    Sounds something like Randy Cunnigham’s experience with Sparrows.

    SU-27 has no cannon though?

    If he really thought that was his “orders”, is that rogue?