The attack aircraft which violated Georgian airspace on August 6 jettisoned, rather than fired, a missile after it came under fire from South Ossetian militias, Reuters reported, quoting unnamed Georgian source close to the investigation.
A source from the Georgian Interior Ministry confirmed to Civil.Ge on August 8 that this line of inquiry was being considered by investigators.
Apparently a Strela shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missile was fired at a Russian SU-24 aircraft by South Ossetian militia forces. In order to outmaneuver a rocket, according to the sources, pilot jettisoned its missile. Hence the reason why the missile failed to explode.
This account is in line with a statement made by the Russian commander of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces in the conflict zone, Marat Kulakhmetov. He said on August 7 that the aircraft came under fire from South Ossetian militiamen. He, however, did not specify what kind of weapon had been used against the aircraft.
Georgia said a Russian-made Raduga Kh-58 anti-radar tactically guided missile was involved in the incident. It was equipped with a 140-kg TNT/RDX warhead, according to the Georgian authorities.
The rocket landed on an area near to Shavshvebi and Tsiteliubani in the Shida Kartli region, which is near breakaway South Ossetia. The area is about 80 kilometers from the Russian border and about 65 kilometers from Tbilisi.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry described the attack as “undisguised aggression and a gross violation of the sovereignty of the country.”