Pilots for Britain’s Royal Air Force can now shoot down Russian military jets when flying missions over Syria and Iraq if they are threatened by them, UK Defense Ministry officials said.
“Up till now, RAF Tornados have been equipped with 500-pound satellite-guided bombs,” a senior British defense official told the Sunday Times of London. “There has been no or little air-to-air threat.
“But in the last week, the situation has changed,” the official said. “We need to respond accordingly.”
The pilots have been instructed to avoid contact with Russian aircraft while flying missions for “Operation Shader,” the codename for the Royal Air Force’s efforts to battle the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, according to the report.
However, their jets are equipped with air-to-air missiles — and the pilots can defend themselves if they are threatened by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s pilots.
Yes, indeed. But the trouble is . . .
“We now have a situation where a single pilot, irrespective of nationality, can have a strategic impact on future events.”
Another Defense Ministry source told the Times: “We need to protect our pilots, but at the same time, we’re taking a step closer to war.
“It will only take one plane to be shot down in an air-to-air battle and the whole landscape will change.”