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Soviets Shot Down Own Jet in 1960 U-2 Incident

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From Associated Press

The Soviet army newspaper Red Star disclosed for the first time Sunday that when the Soviets downed Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane 30 years ago, they also destroyed one of their own fighters that was pursuing the American plane.

The U-2 was downed on May 1, 1960, disrupting a summit meeting 19 days later in Paris between President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev and forcing the cancellation of another summit planned for later that year.

Red Star also disclosed for the first time that the Soviets had sent up a new fighter plane and ordered its pilot to ram the U-2 on a suicide mission. The new fighter reached the U-2’s altitude but failed to find it.

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Soviets hurrying to the May Day parade in the Ural Mountain city of Sverdlovsk saw what appeared to be fireworks high in the air, said the article, signed by a Col. A. Dokuchayev.

The fiery debris was not fireworks but a Soviet MIG-19 that was hit by the same type of missile that exploded behind Power’s U-2 and damaged it, Red Star said in the most detailed version of the Soviet military action.

Powers’ mission began in Pakistan and was to have carried him over Sverdlovsk for a landing in Norway.

He used neither the automatic destruction device nor a poison pin he had been given in case the mission failed, and he was captured at a collective farm near Sverdlovsk. He was held for three years, then exchanged for the Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.

The Soviet article disclosed for the first time that the Soviets ordered a new Sukhoi 9 fighter, which was unarmed, to pursue the U-2, which operated at about 70,000 feet, in an attempt to ram it.

The Soviets also scrambled two MIG-19s, which were not capable of flying that high. The pilot of one MIG-19, Boris Ivazyan, reported to ground control that the debris from the U-2 was actually that from a missile that had missed the U-2, prompting the ground battery to fire another.

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The next Soviet missile struck the MIG-19 flown by Sergei Safronov, 30, who was killed.

Ivazyan survived and later married Safronov’s widow.

Powers died in August, 1977, when his Los Angeles traffic helicopter--apparently out of fuel--crashed in Encino.

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