Russia probing US sabotage in Superjet crash: report

Indonesian soldiers combing the wreckage of the crash.

MOSCOW - Russian intelligence thinks the Superjet liner that crashed during an exhibition in Indonesia may have been sabotaged by the United States, one of the country's most widely read dailies said on Thursday.

In an article titled "Are the Americans implicated in the Superjet crash?" the Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid cited unnamed officials as saying that Russia's aviation rivals were interested in seeing the plane fail.

"We are investigating the theory that it was industrial sabotage," an unnamed military intelligence officer was quoted as saying by the daily.

The Sukhoi Superjet 100 is the first entirely new passenger plane unveiled by Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union and represents the struggling industry's hopes of recapturing its former might.

The short-haul jet ploughed into a mountain south of the capital Jakarta on May 9 during a promotional tour of Asia with the loss of all 45 passengers and crew on board.

Russian officials and media have developed a history of blaming the country's most high-profile disasters and accidents on foreigners.

A top Russian navy commander once blamed the US Navy for the August 2000 Kursk nuclear submarine sinking that killed 118 seamen, since several US ships were in the vicinity of the Barents Sea exercises.

And former Russian Space Agency chief Yury Kotev has suggested that the Mars probe that got stuck in the Earth's orbit in November may have failed because of exposure to US radars in the area.

The military intelligence official told Komsomolskaya Pravda that his agency, the GRU, "has long been tracking the work of the US Air Force at Jakarta airport.

"We know that they have special technology (that we also have) that can jam signals from the ground or cause parameter readings to malfunction," said the official.

"Perhaps this was the real 'trouble' on this occasion as well," the official said.

Indonesian investigators have thus far been unable to find the "black box" storing data on vital aircraft functions that could help them better determine what caused the crash.

Become a fan on Facebook