Western observers stunned as Russian Ministry of Defence shares evidence that a US spyplane was shot down over the USSR during the Cold War. The shoot-down of the seemingly invulnerable jet, capable of flight at over 2,000mph, has not been acknowledged by either side until now.
Yesterday, at a press conference in Moscow, Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation spokesperson Alexei Obmanov shared images and documents that conclusively prove a US SR-71 Blackbird spyplane was downed close to a remote Siberian village in 1983. According to Obmanov, the aircraft was intercepted by a pair of Soviet Air Defence Forces (PVO) MiG-31 interceptors. The intruding US aircraft was tracked for 93 miles (150 km), and five radio warnings issued, before the Soviet aircraft opened fire. Three missiles were fired, with the second two hitting and destroying the American aircraft. The two aircrew successfully ejected from the aircraft. The wreckage, which was recovered from the Siberian village of Durakovo, was sent to the Gromov Flight Research Institute 25 miles (40 km) south-east of Moscow for analysis.
According to Obmanov, a frantic diplomatic effort following the crash saw both sides agree to not publicly acknowledge the incident, an agreement that lasted 35 years. It was feared by both sides that the incident, which occurred at the height of Cold War tensions, could be potentially inflammatory. According to Ben Shearer, from the ANOITO Defence Research Institute, the deal was mutually beneficial as it also cloaked the alleged ‘Submarine 545 incident’. ‘Submarine 545’ refers to a long-denied incident of a Soviet submarine exercise that went badly wrong, and may have inadvertently released radioactive material off the coast of New York in the early 1980s (though no firm proof of the submarine incident has come to light).
The pilot and reconnaissance systems officer (who remain unnamed) of the downed SR-71 were returned to the United States in 1984 in exchange for two Soviet diplomats arrested for espionage in 1975.
According to one US source we spoke to, “This is stunning news… a Blackbird loss has never been acknowledged. As stunning as the loss itself is the mutual secrecy arrangements…I am now wondering what else is out there.” In a time of mutual distrust between Washington and Moscow it is clear that the revelation is intended to embarrass the US. The US Department of Defense has not commented on the revelation.