CLASH IN THE SKIES Russian fighter jet fired two missiles at UK spy plane to shoot it down in terrifying near-miss over Black Sea

A RUSSIAN fighter jet tried to shoot down a British spy plane off the coast of Ukraine carrying 30 crew members.

The pilot of the Su-27 fighter jet fired two missiles at the British jet last September after he thought he had permission, it has emerged.

One of the Russian jets fired two missiles at the British plane (file image)

A Russian fighter jet tried to shoot down a British spy plane last September

At the time Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said that the unarmed RAF Rivet Joint was on routine patrol in international airspace when it was tailed by two Russian Su-27 fighter jets.

During the 90-minute interaction, one of the jets fired two missiles near the RAF plane.

The first one missed the target rather than malfunctioning - Moscow had blamed the missile launch on a "technical malfunction." 

But now three senior Western defence sources have told the BBC that Russian communications intercepted by the RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft reveal a different version. 

It's suggested that one of the pilots thought he was given the green light to strike the British plane following an ambiguous command from a Russian ground station.

According to a Western source, the pilot misinterpreted the words "you have the target" as permission to fire.

But the second Russian pilot understood the order and swore at his wingman after he fired the first missile.

He reportedly can be heard asking his comrade what he thought he was doing.

Yet the first pilot fired another missile- which simply fell from the wing, indicating it either malfunctioned or the launch was aborted.

If the first pilot had succeeded and shot down the Rivet Joint, it could have escalated to a war.

The Ministry of Defence said it will not release details of the intercepted communications.

In response to the revelations, an MoD spokesperson said: "Our intent has always been to protect the safety of our operations, avoid unnecessary escalation and inform the public and international community."

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