Russian Ministry of Defense Asks Permission For Extreme Measures; Rogue Planes to Be Shot Down!
A real threat to human lives, an environmental disaster, an attack on strategic facilities… This is a list of reasons to shoot down an aircraft flying over Russia, including civilian planes with passengers on board. The Ministry of Defense is asking the government for permission to use extreme measures. The agency has prepared amendments to the Regulation on Protection of the State Border. The response procedure is elaborated to the finest detail. Unidentified aircraft, those which don't respond to signals and keep radio silence, will be considered a threat. Russian fighters will rise into the sky and open fire only after a long chain of warnings. The same applies for air defense systems.
Despite the explanation, the fact of asking to have the permission to shoot down civilian planes stirred up panic. Some media resources issued articles with provocative headlines. Here's a prime example (The military is allowed to shoot down civilians) or (Your plane will be shot down if it flies over wrong places).
Nikolay Sokolov will tell us if we should worry.
— Good evening, Nikolay.
— Hello, Alexey.
— So, will it be dangerous to fly over Russia?
— Those were scared who fly a lot including our shooting team. But we've cleared it up.
It's more of a formality… To remove a contradiction in the current legislation. The government decree issued in 1994 is outdated and it prohibits such a measure even on paper. But with the rise of terrorism in the world, we adopted laws to fight it and extremists which, in case of a threat to entire cities and restricted facilities, allow to shoot at aircraft so that they fall on the ground.
Oleg Smirnov, Honored Pilot of the USSR: «The procedure is well-established. The legal framework of the case is if a plane is obviously aiming at a crash in order to inflict huge casualties on the ground, like crashing into a nuclear plant or something like that».
Airline pilots have asked passengers to stop stirring up the fuss. There have been such cases in world history, but they were very few. Modern aviation security measures need to be strengthened on the ground. Also, there are rules and regulations for crossing the air borders of Russia. Any airliner reports about its approach long before crossing the border.
Alexander Romanov, Flight Safety Specialist: «To say that all aircraft will be shot down is very inhumane. I think the decree will be well-thought-out. They'll add something to it. But there won't be a situation when planes will just be shot down».
Eliminating an aircraft is a measure of last resort. Before that, it will be asked to follow to an emergency airport. If it's impossible to establish radio communication with the plane, interceptor pilots will visually make it clear the plane is off course and what it should do next. They might try to follow it out of the country's airspace. If the trespasser keeps flying, our air force will follow it to a zone where they can intercept it. There are many options. It's stated in the aviation laws of many countries. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) suggests recommendations on improving the laws.
Anastasia Miroshnichenko, Aviatsionny Personal Director: «They recommend the ICAO members to develop their own aviation laws according to their recommendations and requirements where it is stated that the military and governmental agencies should take maximum efforts in order to keep aircraft from being shot down».
Countries changed their aviation laws after 9/11 when the planes hijacked by terrorists crashed into the Twin Towers. Now, in the USA, hijacked aircraft are allowed to be shot down. There's an Air Marshal Officer on-board every plane who can apprehend a criminal in case of a hijacking.
The Ministry of Defense didn't go into the details but experts say there are procedures in Russia for neutralizing hijackers inside a plane in the air over Russian territory for instance. Besides, in international practice, it's not a flying control officer who makes the final decision. Usually, there's a crisis center including higher officials. Before the decision to sacrifice passengers' lives to save those on the ground is made, every measure to neutralize the criminals will be taken.
— Nikolay Sokolov on protecting the state border.