The "black box" of the Russian warplane shot down by Turkey on the Turkish-Syrian border last month is being examined by Russian and foreign experts. The flight data recorder of the Sukhoi Su-24 bomber was opened in Moscow on Friday. An analysis of the investigation's findings is expected to be released next week.
Officials from the Russian Defense Ministry opened the orange-painted container as British and Chinese experts observed. Fourteen countries were invited by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Defense Ministry to send their observers, but China and the United Kingdom were the only ones who accepted. Moscow hopes to affirm statements that the Russian jet did not violate Turkish airspace, in direct contradiction to Ankara's statements on the incident.
Military personnel and a large group of journalists were also present as the black box was opened, ABC News reported.
"Wearing lab coats, technicians used screwdrivers, drills, and even a vacuum cleaner as they opened the device under the watchful eyes of military personnel and dozens of journalists in a live national television broadcast."The black box was recovered by Syrian special forces at the site of the plane crash. Until now, no further analysis has been done of the device and it remains in the same condition in which it was found in the crash. As reported by the BBC, quoting Nikolai Primak, head of the Russian investigation, the box itself and the memory card contained within were damaged. It was not exposed to fire at the crash site, however. The deciphering of the data will be decoded with special equipment -- information gathered from the box, including the jet's flight path and position, could help resolve the dispute between Russia and Turkey over where the plane was hit.
U.S. citizens and other foreign experts will take part in the ongoing investigation, as well as specialists from Izmeritel plant and Topaz enterprise who manufactured the device, according to Russia Beyond the Headlines. It is hoped that information can be read from the device's memory chips.
The shooting down of the Russian jet caused the most serious crisis between Turkey and Russia since the end of the Cold War, with Turkey insisting that the jet, deployed as part of the Russian intervention into Syria to support the government of President Bashar Al-Assad, violated Turkish airspace and ignored repeated warnings to withdraw, and Russia claiming it was within Syrian airspace and was maliciously shot down.
"Tensions between the two major powers have hit an all-time high since the shooting down of a Russian S-24 jet by the Turkish Air Force on November 24," as previously noted by Inquisitr, "which led to the death of one of the pilots, as well as a marine sent to rescue him. Turkey claimed the Russian warplane entered Turkish airspace from Syria, which Russia denied and said was still in Syrian airspace."
The pilot was apparently killed by Syrian rebel militants on the ground in the rebel-held territory where it was shot down. Moscow issued sanctions in response to the downing of the jet, including a block on Russian citizens embarking on holiday travel to Turkey which has cost the lucrative Turkish tourist industry billions of dollars. The two countries are both heavily involved in Syria, but support opposite sides of the violent ongoing civil war.
Lt. General Sergei Dronov, a deputy commander of the Russian Air Force, said the investigation was being done "openly for the Russian and international public."
The results are set to be released December 21.
[Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images]