In a dramatic incident that unfolded over the Black Sea in September 2022, a Russian pilot attempted to shoot down a Royal Air Force (RAF) reconnaissance plane.
The SU-27 fighter jet fired two missiles at the aircraft, which had around 30 crew members on board. Russia later attributed the incident to a "technical malfunction."
War expert Professor Anthony Glees from the University of Buckingham discussed the perilous maneuver with the British Daily Star.
He stated that this incident could have easily escalated into World War III. Had the British aircraft been shot down, NATO could have invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
Article 5 stipulates that an armed attack against one or more NATO members in Europe or North America will be considered an attack against all. If the Russian pilot had successfully attacked the British aircraft, other NATO member states would have been obligated to intervene.
Expert Calls Russian Pilot "Trigger-Happy" and "Poorly Trained"
"The Russian pilot was so trigger-happy, poorly trained, and likely inexperienced that he nearly instigated a major war, possibly even World War III," said Anthony Glees.
"Had our aircraft been shot down and our people killed, we would have had to respond, leading to an inevitable escalation. Who knows where that would have ended."