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.