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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Report: Missile Shot Powers' Spy Plane

The 36-year-old controversy over how U.S. agent Gary Powers' spy plane was downed over the Soviet Union has taken a new twist with a newspaper report claiming Powers was shot down by a missile after all.


Retired Soviet fighter pilot Igor Mentyukov created a sensation last month when he claimed it was he who had knocked Powers out of the sky with a fly-by, and not a surface-to-air missile as the Soviet military had always claimed.


However, according to the Defense Ministry mouthpiece, Krasnaya Zvezda, Mentyukov was most likely exaggerating. "[Mentyukov] did not even see Powers' plane, he did not get near it," said Krasnaya Zvezda journalist Anatoly Dokuchayev in an interview Monday.


The downing of the U2 on the morning of May 1, 1960, was one of the hottest moments of the Cold war. It revealed to the world the CIA's covert reconnaissance flights over the territory of the Soviet Union and wrecked a superpower summit in Paris two weeks later.





The incident also persuaded the Pentagon to switch spending from nuclear bombers to the less vulnerable ballistic missiles.


In a full-page article, based on de-classified documents and servicemen's testimony, Dokuchayev said that Mentyukov, flying an unarmed Su-9 fighter, was given orders to intercept and ram Powers' plane -- a command that meant almost certain death for the Russian pilot.


But Mentyukov overshot the U2, and before he could relocate the target, he was forced to return to base because his fuel was running low. Powers ejected only after his aircraft suffered a partial hit from a C-75 surface-to-air-missile, Krasnaya Zvezda wrote.





"Maybe he wanted to earn himself a bit of glory in his old age