Tag Archives: Korean Air Lines

1 September 1983

A Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 interceptor armed with R-98MR air-to-air missiles. (Department of Defense)
Подполковник Г.Н. Осипович. Майкоп, середина 1980-х гг.
Подполковник Г.Н. Осипович. Майкоп, середина 1980-х гг.

1 September 1983: At approximately 1826 hours UTC, Lieutenant Colonel Gennadiy Nikolayevich Osipovich of the V-PVO, (Soviet Air Defence Forces—Войска ПВО, Voyska Protivovozdushnoy Oborony) flying a Sukhoi Su-15TM interceptor, fired two Kaliningrad R-98MR air-to-air missiles at a Korean Air Lines Boeing 747 which was in international air space over the Sea of Japan at an altitude of 35,000 feet (10,668 meters). Both missiles’ 40 kilogram (88 pound) warheads were detonated by proximity fuses 50 yards (45 meters) behind the airliner and blast fragmentation shrapnel caused severe damage. Over the next twelve minutes, the 747 spiraled downward until it crashed into the Sea of Japan near Moneron Island. All 269 persons on board were killed.

The airliner, KAL Flight 007, had departed Anchorage International Airport enroute to Seoul, Republic of Korea. In command was Captain Chun Byung-in. The co-pilot was First Officer Son Dong Hui and the flight engineer was Kim Eui Doing. There were a total of 29 crew members and 240 passengers on board.

After leaving Anchorage airspace, the airplane, a 12-year-old Boeing 747-230B, registration HL7442, continuously deviated from its planned route to the north. It entered Soviet airspace, crossed over the Kamchatka Penninsula, and then flew over Sakhalin Island. Based on these two airspace incursions, the Soviet military chain of command specifically ordered Lieutenant Colonel Osipovich to shoot down the airliner, even if it was over international waters.

A Korean Alr Lines Boeing 747-200, HL2464, similar to the aircraft flown as KAL 007. (Wikipedia)
A Korean Air Lines’ Boeing 747-2B5B, similar to the 747-230B flown as KAL 007, 1 September 1983. (Wikipedia)

It is believed that the KAL 007 flight crew had placed the autopilot in the heading mode when it should have been in the Inertial Navigation Mode. From review of cockpit voice recorder tapes that were later recovered, it is not believed that the crew was ever aware that they were flying north of their course.

The intended and actual track of KAL Flight 700.
The intended and actual track of Korean Air Lines Flight 007. (Central Intelligence Agency)

When interviewed by The New York Times for the 9 December 1996 edition, Colonel Osipovich, by then retired, said, “I saw two rows of windows and knew this was a Boeing. . . I knew this was a civilian plane. But for me this meant nothing. It is easy to turn a civilian type of plane into one for military use.”

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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20 April 1978

Korean Air Lines' Boeing 707 on the frozen lake. (www.autoreview.ru)
Korean Air Lines’ Boeing 707 on the frozen lake. (www.autoreview.ru)

20 April 1978: A Soviet Air Force Sukhoi Su-15TM interceptor shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 902, a Boeing 707 airliner which had overflown Soviet territory. A major navigational error caused Flight 902 to deviate approximately 150° from its planned route.

Captain Alexander Bosov, an interceptor pilot of the 365th IAP (Istrebitel’nyy Aviatsionnyy Polk, Fighter Aviation Regiment), Soviet Air Defense Forces, based at Afrikanda, Murmansk Oblast, Russia, had been sent to intercept the intruder. He repeatedly informed his controllers that the airplane was a civilian airliner, describing its markings, but his superiors ordered him to shoot it down.

Bosov fired two Vympel R-60 infrared-homing air-to-air missiles. One missed, but the second missile hit the 707’s left wing and detonated.

An unidentified Soviet fighter pilot with a Sukhoi Su-15, Yellow 10, at Afrikanda Air Base, where Captain Bosov was assigned. (Wikimapia)
An unidentified Soviet fighter pilot with a Sukhoi Su-15, 10 Yellow, at Afrikanda Air Base, where Captain Bosov was assigned. (Wikimapia)

The airliner’s left wing, outboard of the Number 1 engine, was blown off. Shrapnel penetrated the passenger cabin, resulting in explosive decompression. Of the 109 persons on board, two were killed.

(The descending wing section was picked up by Soviet air defense radar, with the return being interpreted as a cruise missile, and another interceptor was sent to attack it.)

The flight crew, Captain Kim Chang Kyu Lee, co-pilot Chyn Xing, and Navigator Lee Kun-shik, crash landed the 707 on a frozen lake in the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, near the USSR-Finland border.

(Captain Kim had been a fighter pilot during the Korean War, flying the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 for the Korean Peoples Air Force.)

Damage to teh fuselage of Boeing 707 (www.autoreview.ru)
Damage to the fuselage of Boeing 707 (www.autoreview.ru)

Soviet news articles commended Captain Bosov for his skill in firing the missiles so that the airliner would only be damaged, rather than destroyed.

The damaged left wing of Flight 902
The damaged left wing of Flight 902. (www.autoreview.ru)

Flight 902 was a 1967 Boeing 707-321B, serial number 19363. It was first flown 9 September 1967, and was delivered to Pan American World Airways on 21 September 1967, registered N428PA, and named Clipper Star of Hope. The United States registration was cancelled 12 May 1977, when 19363 was exported to Korea and registered HL7429.

The Sukhoi Su-15 is the same type interceptor that shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 707.

A Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 interceptor armed with R-98MR air-to-air missiles. Department of Defense)
A Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 interceptor, 38 Red, armed with R-98MR air-to-air missiles. (Department of Defense)
Derelict HL7429 being dismantled during the summer of 1978. (colonel-baranez.livejournal.com)
Derelict HL7429 being dismantled during the summer of 1978. (colonel-baranez.livejournal.com)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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