Outraged Russian officials asked UK ministers “to provide an official explanation” of reports that RAF Tornados operating over Iraq have been fitted with heat-seeking missiles designed for ariel combat. The Russian ambassador in London, Alexander Yakovenko, said he had “urgently requested explanations” of the reports from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He said: “These reports are worrying, as they refer to senior cabinet members. We have urgently requested explanations from the Foreign and Commonwealth office.
“The very premise of a potential conflict of UK and Russian combat aircraft over Iraq is incomprehensible.” It emerged last night that RAF fighter pilots have been granted permission to shoot down Russian jets if they come under attack while completing missions over Iraq. Pilots were given the shocking order as UK ministers wanted Russia is making the situation in the Middle East “much more dangerous”. RAF jets will be armed with advanced short range air-to-air missiles and British and Nato pilots have been told to fight for their lives if they are fired upon by Vladimir Putin’s air force. Senior defence sources said it is likely British fighter jets will become embroiled in a deadly air battle with Russian aircraft sooner rather than later. CONTINUE