08TBILISI753, INTERNATIONAL EXPERTS GROUP FINISHES INVESTIGATION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI753 2008-05-06 13:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO6431
PP RUEHBW RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0753 1271352
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 061352Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9404
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000753 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT. FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/06/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS GG
SUBJECT: INTERNATIONAL EXPERTS GROUP FINISHES INVESTIGATION 
ON APRIL 20 UAV INCIDENT 
 
REF: TBILISI 727 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1.  (C) Summary:  The Georgian Ministry of Defense announced 
on May 5 that the group of international experts has 
completed its investigation of the April 20 shootdown 
(reftel) of a Georgian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).  The 
report has been cleared for release and will be presented to 
the Georgian government on May 6 by the Lithuanian 
Ambassador.  The international experts team consisted of air 
surveillance and radar data experts from Lithuania, Estonia, 
Latvia, and the United States.  The team's purpose was to 
report on the credibility of the Georgian radar and video 
evidence, not to analyze or draw conclusions as to what the 
evidence shows.  The report concludes that the evidence is 
genuine and accurate.  In a May 2 meeting with the DCM, the 
two USAF experts shared some of their conclusions that were 
not included in the report to avoid politicizing it.  They 
said that they were 100% certain that it was not an L-39 jet, 
despite Abkhaz and Russian assertions to the contrary, and 
"had no doubt" that a Russian aircraft was responsible, 
probably an SU-27.  They added that the radar tracks make it 
very unlikely that the SU-27 took off from Gudauta and that 
the Georgians do not have the experience or the systems 
capability to have falsified the radar data.  End summary. 
 
U.S. Experts "have no doubt" it was a Russian jet 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
2.  (C) In a May 2 meeting with the DCM, the two USAF experts 
shared some of their conclusions that were not included in 
the formal report to avoid politicizing it.  They said they 
were 100% certain that it was not an L-39 jet, despite Abkhaz 
and Russian assertions to the contrary.  Combining what they 
learned from this trip and from other sources, they said they 
had "no doubt" that a Russian aircraft did it, probably an 
SU-27.  The radar tracks make it very unlikely that the SU-27 
took off from Gudauta.  They surmised that if the Georgian 
radar operator had been more proficient, he would have picked 
up the fighter further north, possibly with enough notice for 
the UAV to have escaped.  They said that the Georgians do not 
likely have the capability to have falsified the radar data 
because they lack the expertise and the systems capability to 
do it. 
 
Best estimate of the sequence of events 
--------------------------------------- 
3.  (C)  The USAF experts said that their best estimate of 
the sequence of events with both the March 18 and April 20 
UAV incidents is that the Russians scrambled an SU-27 that 
took out the UAV from above with an infrared missile, which 
is why the UAV did not catch it on video.  The radar data 
from March 18 suggests the aircraft came from and returned to 
Russia and was too fast to be anything but Russian.  On April 
20, the SU-27 probably missed its target on the first pass, 
perhaps because the missile did not lock on when fired from 
above due to background chaff on the surface.  The SU-27 then 
went below the UAV for a cleaner shot up into the sky, which 
is why the UAV could catch it on video. 
TEFFT

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