Military Paper Reports 1981 Plane Incident
MOSCOW (AP) _ The Defense Ministry newspaper said Sunday that an air force pilot rammed his own plane into an unmarked aircraft that violated Soviet airspace in 1981, and the intruding plane apparently crashed.
The newspaper Red Star published the report in response to what it said was a reader’s query about the incident, which it said took place July 18, 1981, in an unspecified mountainous border area..
It was believed to be the first public report of the incident, and few details were provided. The report did not specify what country the plane was thought to have flown.
Red Star said the Soviet plane was disabled in the ramming and the pilot, Capt. Valentin Kulyapin, parachuted to safety.
It said Kulyapin ″completely fulfilled the procedures for intercepting a plane, but got no answer on the origin of the craft.″
The intruding aircraft, a four-engine, propeller-driven plane, tried to frighten the Soviet pilot by approaching too close, so the order was given for it to be destroyed, according to Red Star.
It said Kulyapin could not use his rockets because he was too close to the foreign aircraft, so he decided instead to ram its tail assembly.
He struck the intruder plane twice, but damaged his own craft and had to abandon it, Red Star said.
It did not specifically state that the intruding plane crashed, but said Kulyapin reported seeing it in a downward spiral as he descended by parachute.
Red Star said Kulyapin was back at his base within hours and was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner for his action.
Such an airspace violation probably could not have occurred over the western Carpathians Mountains as they are controlled entirely by the Soviet Union and its East European allies.
Turkey and Iran border the Soviet Union to the south and the Tian Shan and Pamir mountains are shared with China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.