Following a report British defense officials have instructed fighter jet pilots to shoot down Russian jets over Syria, the military attaché at the British Embassy in Moscow was summoned to provide an explanation.
“He was handed a note with a request to provide official explanations on information, published in the British media, citing high-ranking sources in the Defense Ministry of the country, on alleged directives to use weapons against Russian aircraft ‘in case of threat to their lives,’ received by Royal Air Force pilots,” the statement read., according to a Press TV report.
On Sunday the Daily Star reported RAF fighter jets will be armed with air-to-air missiles and have been given the green light to shoot down “hostile” Russian planes.
“We need to protect our pilots but at the same time we’re taking a step closer to war. It will only take one plane to be shot down in an air-to-air battle and the whole landscape will change,” a source told the tabloid.
“No one knows what the Russians will do next. We don’t know how they will respond if they come into contact with a Western jet.
“When planes are flying at supersonic speeds the airspace gets crowded very quickly. There could be a collision or a Russian pilot might be mistakenly shot down,” the source said.
Earlier this month Russian and American aircraft came within 20 miles of each other near the Turkish border. The American pilots were able to identify the Russian aircraft with their targeting cameras.
The British newspaper lauded the ability of supersonic RAF Tornado aircraft and its Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile that can reportedly fly three times the speed of sound.
The Russian Ambassador in the UK Alexander Yakovenko told the UK Foreign Office to provide clarification.
“We are concerned by media reports as far as they refer to senior members of the Cabinet. We urgently requested UK Foreign Office’s clarifications. At the same time, the hypothesis itself of a potential conflict between British and Russian aircraft in the skies over Iraq is incomprehensible. As it is known, the Russian jets are not involved in attacks on ISIL targets on its (Iraqi) territory,” Yakovenko said.