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Russian Experts Open Downed Warplane's Black Box On TV

  • RFE/RL

Russian aviation officials opened the damaged black box from a warplane shot down by Turkey in an hour-long broadcast on national television attended by foreign experts December 18.

An analysis of the box's contents by Russian and foreign experts is due to be released on December 21. Russian officials expect the recorder's data to definitively prove that the plane didn't violate Turkey's airspace.

Turkey shot down the Russian Su-24 bomber at the border with Syria on November 24, maintaining that it violated its airspace for 17 seconds despite repeated warnings. Russia insists the plane never entered Turkish airspace.

The incident, in which one pilot and a Russian marine of the rescue party were killed, badly strained previously warm relations between the two nations.

Lieutenant General Sergei Dronov, a deputy commander of the Russian aerospace forces, told reporters that Moscow invited experts from 14 countries, including the United States, to take part in the study of the plane's flight data recorder, which was recovered by Russian and Syrian forces from the area where the plane was shot down.

But only British and Chinese experts accepted the offer, he said. The British and Chinese specialists were present when the orange-colored recorder was opened. Indian military attaches were also reported to be present.

Dronov said the president and vice president of an international organization for investigating air accidents, Del Gandio and Ron Schleed, both of whom are U.S. citizens, are taking part in the investigation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the military to open the black box in the presence of foreign specialists.

However, officials said preliminary inspection of the recorder found that its data board had been damaged. Some of its memory chips were visibly broken.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and TASS
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