British fighter jet
British fighter jetiSTOCK

The BBC reports that a Russian pilot tried to shoot down a British plane last year. The incident was only declassified today.

The report comes after last year it was reported that the Russian plane attempted to force the British plane to change course by maneuvering into its airspace. Russia claims this was due to a technical fault.

The British Ministry of Defense said after the incident that they accepted the Russian explanation, and denied the accuracy of US reports that claimed otherwise.

Today it was clarified that the Russian pilot wanted to shoot down the plane, which would have caused a serious diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

An intelligence source said today that the Russian pilot released an air-to-air missile that was successfully launched after a vague message that he interpreted as permission to fire. The missile fired but did not lock onto the target: "It was a miss, not a malfunction as Russia claimed," the source emphasized.

A pilot of a Russian plane who was nearby began to argue with the Russian pilot who had fired the missile. The other pilot was angry about the launch of the missile and claimed that permission was not really given for its launch. According to the intelligence source, during the incident, the pilots fought among themselves.

The report likewise claims that despite the second pilot's objections, the first Russian pilot launched a second missile at the British plane.

British authorities did not want the affair to be fully disclosed in order to avoid unnecessary tensions with Moscow, which may increase tensions with the NATO alliance as well.