British, NATO Pilots Told to Shoot Down Russian Jets in Iraq
|News | 11.10.2015 | 08:35|
Sputnik – British and NATO pilots have been given the go-ahead to shoot down Russian jets over Iraq, local media reported citing senior defense sources on Sunday.
Russia launched precision airstrikes against Islamic State (ISIL) targets in Syria last week at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said this week Moscow has not received any requests from Baghdad to carry out airstrikes against ISIL targets in Iraq.
"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," a UK defense source told the Daily Star Sunday tabloid.
The Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Tornado combat aircraft are said to be equipped with up to four Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAM) to shoot down a Russian jet they encounter. The 2,300-miles-per-hour missiles with warheads filled with 22 pounds of high explosive lock onto targets using an infrared heat-seeker.
UK defense sources stressed that RAF pilots have been told to avoid contact with Russian jets "at all costs," but warned the pilots must be prepared to attack Russian jets "if their lives depend on it."
"It will only take one plane to be shot down in an air-to-air battle and the whole landscape will change," one of the sources added.
Russia and the United States have held two deconfliction talks to avoid accidental encounters over Syrian airspace.
A US-led coalition of 60 nations has been conducting anti-ISIL airstrikes in Iraq and Syria for over a year, bypassing the UN Security Council’s and Assad's approval.
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said this week he was seeking to extend RAF’s anti-ISIL efforts in Iraq to Syria.
|Tags: NATO Iraq Middle East Russia|