About this we disagree. The operational theory of the pilots and the ground controllers was that KAL 007, a civilian 747, was conducting electronic surveillance. This supposition was enhanced by the fact that US spy planes, an RC-135, regularly flew in circles (orbits) near the Russian Air Defense perimeter. I believe it's true that the Russian pilots required direct orders approved at a high level in order to fire. Just because they had that approval does not make the decision to fire a political one. The fallout of the decision was of no benefit politically....
KAL007 was squawking a valid transponder code, and was visually sighted and described by the pilots flying the interception. No military target was ever in the flight path. That act was prompted purely by politics.
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