Express UK News By Jake Burman Posted Mon., Oct.12, 2015
Outraged Russian officials asked UK ministers “to provide an official explanation” of reports that RAF Tornados operating over Iraq have been fitted with heat-seeking missiles designed for arial combat.
The Russian ambassador in London, Alexander Yakovenko, said he had “urgently requested explanations” of the reports from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
He said: “These reports are worrying, as they refer to senior cabinet members. We have urgently requested explanations from the Foreign and Commonwealth office. The very premise of a potential conflict of UK and Russian combat aircraft over Iraq is incomprehensible.”
It emerged last night that RAF fighter pilots have been granted permission to shoot down Russian jets if they come under attack while completing missions over Iraq.
Pilots were given the shocking order as UK ministers wanted Russia is making the situation in the Middle East “much more dangerous”.
RAF jets will be armed with advanced short range air-to-air missiles and British and Nato pilots have been told to fight for their lives if they are fired upon by Vladimir Putin’s air force.
Senior defence sources said it is likely British fighter jets will become embroiled in a deadly air battle with Russian aircraft sooner rather than later.
A source said: “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.”
RAF pilots have reportedly been told to avoid contact with Russian jets but have been warned to be prepared to fight back if fired upon.
A second source said: “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.”
Tensions between Russia and Western forces have increased since Putin announced an assault on rebels who have been trying to overthrow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
The US, Britain, France and others have accused Moscow of launching airstrikes against non-ISIS targets in Syria. Allied forces also condemned an incursion by Russian warplanes into Turkish airspace.