3 W. Europe Nations Criticize Soviets for Slow Response on Pilotless MIG
West Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium sharply criticized the Soviet Union on Wednesday for not informing them sooner about the pilotless MIG-23 fighter jet that careened out of control over their territory.
The Soviet fighter plane took off Tuesday from Poland on a training flight, but its pilot ejected after a mechanical problem developed, according to Tass, the official Soviet news agency. The jet, apparently still on automatic pilot, entered West German airspace, crossed the Netherlands and crashed into a house in Belgium, killing one man.
The Soviet Union promised to pay full compensation to the Belgians.
West Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium protested that they had to wait more than 10 hours before Tass provided Moscow’s first reaction to the incident.
Soviet Defense Minister Dmitri T. Yazov told Tass that an investigation in Poland and at the crash site would try to determine why Warsaw Pact forces failed to detect and shoot down the plane.
The government newspaper Izvestia said the MIG’s pilot, before he bailed out, set the automatic controls so that the craft would fly out over the Baltic Sea.