The military mistakenly shot down the plane
One of the most important achievements of the 20th century was jet civil aviation. Modern, economical and comfortable airplanes tied the whole world, allowing you to get to anywhere in the world in a matter of days. Initially, jet aircraft showed low reliability. But by the end of the century, it became safer to fly an airplane than to travel by car. And with the growing reliability of technology, the importance of the human factor began to grow. Human errors. Today, accidents in aviation occur only after the many mistakes of various people involved in flight support.
However, sometimes catastrophes happen for quite monstrous reasons when airplanes shoot down the military. Most often this is due to human error or coincidence. But there have been situations in history when a catastrophe is very difficult to explain with an accidental mistake. One of them is a South Korean Boeing 747 shot down on September 1, 1983 over Sakhalin.
The causes of the crash of the Boeing 747-230B airline Korean Air Lines (flight KE007) originate in 1979.The USSR sent troops into Afghanistan, after which relations with the United States deteriorated sharply. The sluggish cold war after Vietnam received a new boost. Indicative saber-rattling, provocations at the borders, ambitious military exercises on both sides. All this happened in the Far East. During 1982–83, US carrier-assault groups regularly approached Soviet military sites in the region. For example, on April 4, 1983, 6 American attack aircraft entered the Soviet airspace several tens of kilometers inland and staged an imitation of bombing. The situation was tense, it remained to wait for the slightest mistake.
And an error has occurred. The ICAO commissions conducting the crash investigation found the error of the pilots who didn’t set up the autopilot incorrectly and then didn’t perform the appropriate checks as the most likely reason for the KE007’s flight to deviate from the route.
Boeing 747-230B HL7442
South Korean Boeing 747 flew the usual route New York - Seoul with an intermediate landing in Anchorage. The flight was to take place over the Pacific Ocean east of Kamchatka, skirting the USSR. However, due to improperly operating navigation equipment, the airliner deviated from the course from the very beginning.The situation was complicated by the intersection with the airborne US reconnaissance aircraft RC-135. The Soviet side subsequently submitted data that at some point the marks of the aircraft on the screens of the locators merged into one. From this point on, Soviet radars conducted a passenger plane considering that it was an American military intelligence officer. Civilian pilots flew toward the Soviet borders, unaware of a terrible mistake.
When the Boeing 747 approached the Soviet borders, the Su-15TM fighters from the Yelizovo airfield were raised to intercept. Thinking that they were being flown by an American intelligence officer, the Soviet military predicted the development of further scenarios. They believed that the "RC-135" would pass close to the border of the USSR, but would not enter the Soviet airspace. And they made interceptors based on these considerations. But the passenger plane went straight across the borders. While mistakenly induced interceptors tried to catch up with them, they burned the fuel, and the Boeing 747 peacefully passed almost over their airfield and left the airspace of the USSR. Now he was over the Sea of Okhotsk outside the official airspace of the USSR.
American intelligence officer RC-135
After such a “breakthrough of the borders” of the USSR, “enemy aircraft” at the command posts reigned a dual atmosphere. On the one hand, the military embraced the hunting excitement, because the goal was "locked" in the Sea of Okhotsk. On the other hand, they were afraid of punishment for such a "breakthrough." To intercept raised new fighters. And one of them, the Su-15TM from the duty unit of the 777th Fighter Aviation Regiment from the Sokol airfield under the command of Gennady N. Osipovich, is catching up with a passenger plane. The deviation from the route at this point was 500 km.
Gennady Osipovich, getting close to Boeing, reported that he was observing the aircraft navigation lights. At the same time, he found it difficult to determine a particular type. Attempts to request a Boeing answering "friend or foe" were unsuccessful. From the ground, we once again clarified whether the navigation lights were on, and received an affirmative answer. The interceptor pilot was assigned the task of forcing the observed aircraft to land. Being out of sight of the Boeing pilots, Gennady Osipovich turned on his navigation lights for a while. After that an order was opened from the ground to open a warning fire from a cannon.Su-15 made several long bursts having spent more than 200 rounds.
Meanwhile, Boeing pilots decide to climb a new echelon, where fuel consumption is lower. The plane begins to climb and reduces speed. And at the same time, Osipovich receives an order from Anatoly Kornukov, who is at the command post (commander of the 40th Fighter Aviation Division in the country's Air Defense Forces in the Far East), to destroy the target. Because of the Boeing maneuver, the interceptor slips forward and is lower and ahead. To reach the position of opening fire, he dramatically reduces speed and falls down by 2 kilometers.
A violated Boeing has only 3 minutes to fly in the airspace of the USSR. His pilots are still not aware that they have deviated from the course and are in hostile airspace. Meanwhile, the nervousness of the Soviet military is growing. From the ground they urgently need to destroy the target before it flew away. Osipovich turns on the fast and the furious, lifts his nose and, with an interval of two seconds, launches two R-98 missiles at the passenger Boeing. The first rocket hits the back of the fuselage, the second pulls down part of the left wing.On the ground, they are tensely looking at the screens of locators, because the mark of a huge plane falling apart in the air is in no hurry to disappear. They try to point at the nearby Mig-23 to the mark in order not to miss the "enemy". But the mark disappears. Together with 23 crew members and 246 passengers.
The next day, September 2, the Soviet media issued the following message:
On the night of August 31st to September 1st, an aircraft of unidentified affiliation from the Pacific Ocean entered the airspace above the Kamchatka Peninsula, then again violated the airspace of the USSR over about. Sakhalin. At the same time, the aircraft flew without aeronautical lights, did not respond to inquiries, and did not enter into communication with the radio control service.
Air defense fighters raised to meet the intruder plane tried to assist in bringing it to the nearest airfield. However, the intruder aircraft did not react to the signals and warnings of the Soviet fighters and continued flying towards the Sea of Japan.
But, despite the desire of Soviet propaganda not to notice the downed plane, other states remained in the outside world. Thousands of actions and marches against the actions of the USSR took place in South Korea and the USA. Soviet flags were burned.On September 5, the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, called the attack on the Korean aircraft "a crime against humanity" and an "act of barbarous cruelty." At the same time, Reagan advertised the emerging GPS system.
In the USSR at that time feverishly thought how to explain what had happened. On September 6, at a meeting of the UN Security Council, the Americans presented detailed transcripts of Soviet radio talks and flight cards of a passenger liner with a deviation from the course. To deny a downed plane was insane. By September 9, a press conference was prepared at which the Chief of the General Staff, Marshal Ogarkov, presented the Soviet version of the incident.
Marshal expressed regret because of the death of people and laid the blame for what happened on ... America. According to the Soviet version, what happened was a carefully planned action by the Americans to open the Soviet air defense system.
Boeing 747 flight KE007 departed from Anchorage Airport with a delay. And so it happened that he was very precisely synchronized with the spans over the Kamchatka of the American radio intelligence intelligence satellite Ferret-D. During the passage by passenger aircraft of the USSR air borders, the satellite was located over the region and observed the Soviet air defense systems being activated.
The moment when the Boeing 747 began to climb and thus lost speed, the Soviet military was presented as a cunning attempt to break away from the interceptor, which was not able to fly at such a low rate.
It has been stated that the deviation from the standard course of airlines and aircraft violation USSR airspace was intentional action pilots.
"Conclusively proven that the invasion of the South Korean airline aircraft in Soviet airspace was deliberate carefully planned intelligence operation. It was operated from certain centers in the United States and Japan. A civilian plane was deliberately chosen for it, regardless of whether or not it was calculated for human casualties. Hence all the grave consequences of this extraordinary “incident,” as it is called in the Western press. Naturally, the entire responsibility for the incident rests entirely on the organizers ", - the chief of the General Staff of Armed Forces of the USSR Nikolai Ogarkov.
According to Marshal of the Soviet interceptors have done everything possible to prevent a catastrophe: trying to get in touch, opened the cannon fire warning,they tried to force the “scout” flying without identification lights to landing. It was all a lie. Gennady Osipovich did not try to get in touch, because it required switching to other frequencies. The warning fire was opened by armor-piercing projectiles, which are not visible neither at night nor in the afternoon. A passenger plane was flying with lights on.
The last hope of the USSR to prove that it is a scout, was an attempt to raise the black boxes of a downed Boeing before the Americans. To be the first, a whole special operation was carried out with fake beacons and imitation of work on the “found” beacons. While the Americans drove away the Soviet ship and worked in the area, the Soviet ships raised real black boxes. But it did not bring them joy. Intelligence mission and did not smell. Korean pilots, until the very last moment, did not suspect that they were off course. Records were classified and transferred to ICAO only in 1993 at the direction of Boris Yeltsin. Until that moment, the Soviet side said that it was a reconnaissance mission, and America was to blame for it, which substituted a passenger plane for Soviet missiles.
Different official points of view on what happened and the secrecy of black boxes gave rise to many theories about the "true causes" of what happened. Among them were beautiful stories about the fact that the USSR shot down a reconnaissance aircraft without passengers, but the United States, in order to make a bunch of corpses and blame the USSR for this, specifically shot down the aircraft with passengers. You've heard a similar story somewhere, haven't you?
It is worth mentioning that in 2015 the Japanese Foreign Ministry declassified documents in which high-ranking officials of the US administration immediately after the disaster confidentially inform the Japanese that the plane was confused with an American intelligence officer and shot down by mistake. In official statements of the time, Washington insisted that Moscow hit the plane intentionally.
Gennady Nikolaevich Osipovich.
On the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, Komsomolskaya Pravda published an interview with the Su-15TM pilot Gennady Osipovich, who at that time was almost 60 years old.
“At first I couldn’t determine that it was Boeing. He went far. And when I approached, I saw that two rows of illuminators were burning. I did not see people in the cabin. Especially you will not see from three hundred meters.Then we corrected the recording of our radio with the earth. They made it like I reported: "The flasher is off." To convince the world that we did not know that the plane was civil. (Civilian airplanes must always go with flashing lights - the navigation lights turned on. But the military - no.) Although I honestly reported that the flasher was on. So that on earth they understand that this is civil.
I think the crew was the only one on the downed plane. And, obviously, scouts. They thought that our ground-based air defense systems would turn on, and they would fix them all. I'm telling you what I know. I am a performer. I was told: "The ferret!" I will not say that this gopher. They said: "To fill up!" - flunked.
It seems to me that the "Boeing" with the passengers shot down the Americans. They needed a provocation. Come out - good. It will not work - either. CIA was profitable. So, there were two aircraft. I shot down not a passenger, but a scout. And the airliner with passengers was shot down by the Americans in order to declare later that the USSR is an evil empire! And to convince the world that in fact there was no intelligence officer!
Earlier [September 1] noted. Gathered in the family or at work. And - for my, so to speak, professional fitness ... After all, I managed to overwhelm the plane! And this is not so easy! And now it is not marked.
Questions I have. Except one. To the authorities. SelfishMany of us got double salaries for the plane I shot down. Everyone but me. Is there justice? And I don’t even want to talk about the order! Handed over a year! "For success in combat and political training." Order of the Red Star, which is given to everyone! And I did the combat mission! ”
"The prayer tower" at Cape Soya in Japan. Memorial to the lost flight KAL 007
Everyone knows the wisdom to learn from mistakes. Analyze, draw conclusions, take measures to prevent this. An experience gained in blood should be considered invaluable. However, the reality shows that the military continues to shoot down aircraft because of their own curvature. Instead of taking responsibility for their actions, they justify their own incompetence by the same algorithms as decades ago. And as long as the Kornukov, Osipovichi, and Ogarkovs exist in armies, the safety of civilians will remain in question.