BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:15 P.M.) – The Russian Defence Ministry blamed the Israeli Air Force for using a Russia Il-20 plane as cover, spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said at a briefing in Moscow on Monday.
Data gleaned from the S-400 air defense system deployed at the Russian Khmeimim air base in Syria’s Latakia province has revealed that the Syrian anti-air missile was, in fact, targeting an Israeli F-16 jet before it abruptly altered its course and eventually hit the Russian aircraft.
This, and the position of all the aircraft at the moment of the September 17 incident, proves that an Israeli jet was de facto using the larger Il-20 as a cover, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov told journalists at Monday’s news briefing.
The radar images revealed at the briefing “clearly showed the direction of the flight of the S-200 missile launched by the Syrian air defense system, as well as the locations of the Russian and Israeli aircraft,” Konashenkov said, adding that “it is quite clear that the missile was targeting the Israeli jet.”
However, the missile then suddenly changed its course and “locked on a target with a larger radar cross-section and slower speed,” which was the Russian reconnaissance plane coming in for landing.
The Israeli jet, which effectively used the Il-20 as a cover from the attack, then also abruptly changed its altitude and the flight direction, Konashenkov said.