Cast of Characters
Kornukov—General Anatoli Kornukov, Commander Sokol Air Force Base (Sakhalin).
Kornukov was appointed Russia’s new Air Force Commander by Boris Yeltsin on January 22, 1998.
He served in this capacity until retiring in January 2002.
Gerasimenko—Lt. Colonel, Acting Commander, 41st Fighter Regiment
Novoseletski—Lt. Colonel, Acting Chief of Staff, Fighter Division, Smirnykh Air Force Base
Titovnin—Flight controller, Fighter Division Combat Control Center
Maistrenko—Operations Duty Officer, Combat Control Center, Fighter
Kamenski—General, Commander, Far East Military District Air Force
Times are given in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC, formerly Greenwich Mean Time or
GMT). In the air over Sakhalin, it was early in the morning of September 1, 1983.
The following is quoted from Rescue 007, pages 152 to 155
(with minor corrections and additions). The Russian transcripts are from the
1993 ICAO report. Commentary is provided by Bert Schlossberg.
General Kornukov (to Military District Headquarters-Gen. Kamenski):
...simply destroy [it] even if it is over neutral waters? Are the orders
to destroy it over neutral waters? Oh, well.
General Kornukov: (6:13)
Chaika (Call sign for Far East Military District Air Force)
Yes, sir. He (Major Osipovich in his Sukhoi 15 TM Flagon
interceptor) sees [it] on the radar screen, He sees [it] on the
screen, He has locked on, he is locked on, he is locked on.
No answer, Roger. Be ready to fire, the target is 45-50 km to the
Apparently, the Russians were prepared to fire while KAL 007 was
over international waters. It had previously passed over
territorial space of Kamchatka.
Officer in charge at the command post, please, for report.
Kornukov, please put Kamenski on the line. Kornukov, ...
General Kornukov, put General Kamenski on.
Comrade General, Kornukov, good morning. I am reporting the situation.
Target 60- 65 (KAL 007 "intruder") is over Terpenie Bay
(Terpenie Bay is on the east coast of Sakhalin Island. KAL 007 had thus
successfuly traversed Kamchatka, after entering over Petropavlovsk, and
crossing the Sea of Okhotsk, it was about to enter Sakhalin's airspace.)
tracking 240, 30 km from the State border, the fighter from
Sokol is 6 km away. Locked on, orders were given to arm weapons. The
target is not responding, to identify, he cannot identify it visually
because it is still dark, but he is still locked on.
We must find out, maybe it is some civilian craft or God knows who.
What civilian? [It] has flown over Kamchatka! It [came] from the ocean
without identification. I am giving the order to attack if it crosses
the State border.
Go ahead now, I order…?
And at another location—at Smyrnykh Air Force Base in central Sakhalin…
Lt. Col. Novoseletski: (6:12)
Does he see it on the radar or not?
He sees it on the screen, he sees it on the screen. He is locked on.
He is locked on.
Locked on. Well, Roger.
Lt. Col. Maistrenko:
Maistrenko Comrade Colonel, that is, Titovnin.
The commander has given orders that if the border is violated—destroy
…May [be] a passenger [aircraft]. All necessary steps must be taken to
Identification measures are being taken, but the pilot cannot see. It’s
dark. Even now it’s still dark.
Well, okay. The task is correct. If there are no lights—it cannot be a
Maistrenko was incorrect but Osipovich had not reported at the time
to his controller that he had seen KAL 007's lights. He was to
acknowledge this in his Sept. 9, 1996, New York Times interview :
just next to him, on the same altitude, 150 meters to 200 meters away,'
he recalled in conversations with a reporter this weekend.
From the flashing lights and the configuration of the windows, he
recognized the aircraft as a civilian type of plane, he said.
'I saw two rows of windows and knew that this was a Boeing,' he said. 'I
knew this was a civilian plane. But for me this meant nothing. It is
easy to turn a civilian type of plane into one for military use.'"
Osipovich in 1983
Osipovich in 1996
You confirm the task?
You confirm the task?
And at yet another location…
Lt. Col. Gerasimenko:
Gerasimenko, cut the horseplay at the command post, what is that noise
there? I repeat the combat task: fire missiles, fire on target 60-65
destroy target 60-65.
Comply and get Tarasov here.
Take control of the MiG 23 from Smyrnykh, call sign 163, call sign 163,
he is behind the target at the moment. Destroy the target!
Task received. Destroy target 60-65 with missile fire, accept control of
fighter from Smyrnykh.
Carry out the task, destroy [it]!
…Comrade General… Gone to attack position.
Oh, [obscenities], how long [does it take him] to go to attack position,
he is already getting out into neutral waters. Engage afterburner
immediately. Bring in the MiG 23 as well...
While you are wasting time, it will fly right out.
So, 23 is going behind, his radar sights are engaged, draw yours off to
the right immediately after the attack. Has he fired or not?
Not yet, not at all.
He is closing in, going on the attack. 163 is coming in, observing both.
Okay, Roger, understood, so bring in 163 in behind Osipovich to