The duel in the skies which nearly sparked World War Three: Terrifying moment Soviet jet fighter almost shot down US spy plane is revealed

The incident above the Barents Sea, near Soviet waters, took place between US and USSR jets 30 years ago
It is documented in recently declassified documents which are analysed in a new book by Paul Crickmore
A US Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird came into contact with a MiG-31, the premier Soviet interceptor aircraft
A shoot-out in the skies – which would have had devastating ramifactions at a time of escalated tensions between the Cold War superpowers – was only narrowly avoided
A previously unknown Cold War skirmish in the skies which could have sparked a major diplomatic crisis between the West and USSR, has been revealed in a new book.
The incident above the Barents Sea, near Soviet waters, took place between a US Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and a MiG-31, the premier Soviet interceptor aircraft, at the height of the Cold War 30 years ago.
It is documented in recently declassified documents which are analysed in a new book.
A shoot-out in the skies – which would have had devastating ramifactions at a time of escalated tensions between the Cold War superpowers – was only narrowly avoided.
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The incident above the Barents Sea, near Soviet waters, took place between a US Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (pictured left) and a MiG-31, the premier Soviet interceptor aircraft; US pilots Curt Osterheld (near left) and Ed Yeilding
The incident above the Barents Sea, near Soviet waters, took place between a US Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (pictured left) and a MiG-31, the premier Soviet interceptor aircraft; US pilots Curt Osterheld (near left) and Ed Yeilding

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A shoot-out in the skies - which would have had devastating ramifactions at a time of escalated tensions between the Cold War superpowers - was only narrowly avoided (MiG-31 pictured)
A shoot-out in the skies – which would have had devastating ramifactions at a time of escalated tensions between the Cold War superpowers – was only narrowly avoided (MiG-31 pictured)
The alarming episode is revealed in British historian Paul Crickmore's new book Lockheed Blackbird, Beyond the Secret Missions.  On October 6, 1986, a SR-71 Blackbird was carrying out a reconnaissance mission just outside the territorial waters of Russia's Murmansk area coastline. They were tasked with keeping an eye on a Soviet ballistic missile submarine fleet. However, the Blackbird was not alone in the skies - there was a Soviet interceptor on their trail. The Blackbird managed to shake off the hostile aircraft and complete its mission, but it was far too close for comfort. In Mr Crickmore's book, US pilot Lieutenant Colonel Ed Yeilding describes the terrifying incident. The pilot stated: 'In the distance far ahead, at perhaps 100 miles, I could see a long, bright white Russian contrail flying directly towards us, but at much lower altitude. 'I knew it must be a Soviet fighter, probably a MiG-31, then the newest Soviet interceptor. 'I raised my periscope and saw too that we were leaving a long contrail. 'I knew the fighter could see our contrail as easily as I could see his. 'I imagined the Soviet pilot was much like me, with a love of aviation and trying hard to be one of the very best.
The alarming episode is revealed in British historian Paul Crickmore’s new book Lockheed Blackbird, Beyond the Secret Missions.
On October 6, 1986, a SR-71 Blackbird was carrying out a reconnaissance mission just outside the territorial waters of Russia’s Murmansk area coastline.
They were tasked with keeping an eye on a Soviet ballistic missile submarine fleet.
However, the Blackbird was not alone in the skies – there was a Soviet interceptor on their trail.
The Blackbird managed to shake off the hostile aircraft and complete its mission, but it was far too close for comfort.
In Mr Crickmore’s book, US pilot Lieutenant Colonel Ed Yeilding describes the terrifying incident.
The pilot stated: ‘In the distance far ahead, at perhaps 100 miles, I could see a long, bright white Russian contrail flying directly towards us, but at much lower altitude.
‘I knew it must be a Soviet fighter, probably a MiG-31, then the newest Soviet interceptor.
‘I raised my periscope and saw too that we were leaving a long contrail.
‘I knew the fighter could see our contrail as easily as I could see his.
‘I imagined the Soviet pilot was much like me, with a love of aviation and trying hard to be one of the very best.

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