Brits Scramble After Putin Allegedly Hacks Plane

( – It’s been over two years since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his military flooding across the border in what many see as an attempt to resurrect the Soviet Union (USSR), which was relegated to the ash heap of history in the early 1990s.

Since that time, Western nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom (UK) have funneled hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to the defenders while NATO military forces have engaged in exercises to remind the Russian dictator there are certain lines that it would be best he does not cross. Just recently, Putin replied with a gesture of his own that could be interpreted as a message; the West needs to remember that war is a two-way street.

The Not So Friendly Skies

The UK’s Minister of Defence Grant Shapps was visiting the region to boost the morale of his country’s soldiers in Poland for their Dragon 24 exercise, which is part of the larger NATO joint exercise Steadfast Defender 2024. It was during the flight home that the Russians initiated a cyber attack that disabled his jet’s GPS and Internet communications for all passengers aboard.

The electronic interference of Shapps’ aircraft began as it neared Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast, a relic left over from the USSR days located between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea. In response, both the United States Air Force (USAF) and the British Royal Air Force (RAF) each scrambled an RC-135 Rivet Joint spy/reconnaissance aircraft — one of several military variants of the Boeing 707 passenger liner — that then spent hours loitering over the allied countries to keep an eye on Putin’s forces.

The minister, his staff, and the reporters who accompanied him on the trip were flying on a Dassault Falcon 900, a French-built commercial luxury private jet the same as megastar Taylor Swift used to travel the world from stops on her musical tour back to the US to attend the NFL games of boyfriend Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs.

This has caused some concern in England because high-level officials and members of the royal family are jetting about on airplanes that have no means of defending against any missiles that an enemy might fire at them.

The British government bought two of the Falcon 900s in February 2022 for £80 million (~$102 million as of March 18, 2024) with a promise to its subjects that they would be upgraded with the ability to dispense flares and chaff along with other electronic measures intended to spoof any missiles headed their way.

British news outlets are reporting that the decision was made to delay the installation of the defensive systems because the military “could not afford” the estimated £200 million (~$255 million) price tag. After the current scare, that has been revisited but it appears that the work will not be completed until late 2026.

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