December 21, 2015 / 3:08 PM / in 2 years

Russia says black box from warplane downed by Turkey unreadable

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Investigators in Moscow said on Monday they were unable to retrieve information from the damaged black box of a Russian warplane shot down by Turkey last month, data the Kremlin hoped would support its version of what happened.

A war plane crashing in flames in a mountainous area in northern Syria after it was shot down by Turkish fighter jets near the Turkish-Syrian border, is seen in this still image taken from video November 24, 2015. REUTERS/Reuters TV/Haberturk TV

Russia’s Defence Ministry publicly opened the recorder last week, hoping its contents would confirm Moscow’s assertions that the bomber did not stray into Turkish air space and was maliciously downed.

“Retrieving the information and a read out of flight data ... has proven to be impossible because of internal damage,” said Sergei Bainetov, the Russian Air Force’s deputy head of flight safety.

Bainetov said 13 of the flight recorder’s 16 microchips had been destroyed and that those remaining were damaged.

The damage was so severe, he said, because of the sheer force with which the plane had hit the ground after being struck by an air-to-air missile, severing a cord that connected the black box and the jet’s avionics.

The defense ministry would now turn to specialized scientific institutions in the hope that they could get something from the damaged chips, he said, saying it was an uncertain process that was likely to take “a lot of time.”

The downing of the Russian SU-24 fighter-bomber by Turkish jets on Nov. 24 was the most serious confrontation between Moscow and a NATO member state in the last 50 years.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Turkey of “stabbing Russia in the back” and ordered a raft of retaliatory economic sanctions against Ankara.

Turkey says the warplane, part of Russia’s Syria-based strike force, strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings to leave. Russia says the plane did not leave Syria and posed no threat to Turkey.

Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Writing by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Alexander Winning/Andrew Osborn

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