Russian Intelligence Blames United States For Superjet Crash
A week before rescuers found the plane’s flight data recorder on Thursday, Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency began claiming that the most plausible explanation for the May 9th crash of a Sukhoi Superjet 100 is that the United States military jammed its electronics.
Let’s consider the ridiculousness of this theory: the United States military operates a secret base in Jakarta from which they purposely jam aircraft electronics. According to the Russians, the US is so threatened by the Superjet that they steered it into a mountain. Of course, nothing on the airplane could have failed, and the pilots would never make a mistake.
To be sure, Superjet is not a singular product, but the first move of a long game. Russia hopes that scoring successful Superjet orders, particularly outside of its normal sphere of influence, will prove that Russian companies can deliver larger aircraft.
It is important to realize, then, that it is in the Russian government’s best interest to find a cause that puts the plane itself in the best possible light. That an intelligence agency would mention anything about a plane crash of this nature should raise everyone’s eyebrows.
Can we trust investigators to deliver a fair conclusion after a development like this? We’ll be watching closely.
UPDATE: Indonesian aviation blogger Gerry Soejatman has some great background about the origin of the “blame the US” theory, focusing on a US Air Force C-17 cargo jet that landed at Jakarta’s Halim Airport and departed shortly after the Superjet disappeared from radar.
While a US military aircraft in Jakarta might seem a bit out of place, the flights are not unusual at Halim, as they stop in a few times a month carrying supplies for use at the US Embassy.
Soetjaman points out that the head of communications at Sukhoi’s parent company, United Aircraft Corporation, has dismissed the speculation about US involvement via her personal Twitter account. Sukhoi has not, however, released any official statement countering those claims.
Sukhoi, in fact, made its own dubious statement upon initial analysis of the plane’s cockpit voice recorder, stating, “indications of the failure of the aircraft’s systems and components were not discovered, the terrain and collision avoidance system T2CAS was functionally operative in flight and provided crew with information on the hazardous ground proximity.” (Emphasis added.) There is simply no way of knowing what was working or not based solely on the conversations and sounds recorded in the cockpit.