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Korean Air Lines Flight 007

1983 flight shot down by the Soviet Union / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (KE007/KAL007)[note 2] was a scheduled Korean Air Lines flight from New York City to Seoul via Anchorage, Alaska. On September 1, 1983, the flight was shot down by a Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 interceptor. The Boeing 747 airliner was en route from Anchorage to Seoul, but owing to a navigational mistake made by the crew, the airliner drifted from its original planned route and flew through Soviet prohibited airspace. The Soviet Air Forces treated the unidentified aircraft as an intruding U.S. spy plane, and destroyed it with air-to-air missiles, after firing warning shots which were probably not seen by the KAL pilots. The Korean airliner eventually crashed in the sea near Moneron Island west of Sakhalin in the Sea of Japan. All 269 passengers and crew aboard were killed, including Larry McDonald, a United States representative. The Soviet Union found the wreckage under the sea two weeks later on September 15 and found the flight recorders in October, but this information was kept secret by the Soviet authorities until after the country's collapse.

Quick facts: Shootdown, Date, Summary, Site, Aircraft...
Korean Air Lines Flight 007
HL7442, the aircraft that was shot down, landing at Zurich Airport in 1980.
DateSeptember 1, 1983
SummaryShot down by the Soviet Air Forces after navigation error by KAL pilots, leading to in-flight breakup
SiteSea of Japan, near Moneron Island, west of Sakhalin Island, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
46°34′N 141°17′E
Aircraft typeBoeing 747-230B
OperatorKorean Air Lines
IATA flight No.KE007
ICAO flight No.KAL007
Call signKOREAN AIR 007
Flight originJohn F. Kennedy International Airport,
New York City, U.S.
StopoverAnchorage International Airport,
Anchorage, Alaska, U.S.
DestinationGimpo International Airport,
Gangseo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Crew23[note 1]

The Soviet Union initially denied knowledge of the incident,[2] but later admitted to shooting down the aircraft, claiming that it was on a MASINT spy mission.[3] The Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union said it was a deliberate provocation by the United States[4] to probe the Soviet Union's military preparedness, or even to provoke a war. The US accused the Soviet Union of obstructing search and rescue operations.[5] The Soviet Armed Forces suppressed evidence sought by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) investigation, such as the flight recorders,[6] which were released ten years later, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.[7]

The incident was one of the tensest moments of the Cold War and resulted in an escalation of anti-Soviet sentiment, particularly in the United States.

As a result of the incident, the United States altered tracking procedures for aircraft departing from Alaska, and President Ronald Reagan issued a directive making American satellite-based radionavigation Global Positioning System freely available for civilian use, once it was sufficiently developed, as a common good.[8]