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Report: Russian intelligence suspects US hand in SuperJet crash

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Ruslan Krivobok/RIA-Novosti/AP/File

(Read caption) In this September 2007 file photo, a Sukhoi Superjet 100 is displayed outside the aviation factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russia, about 3,900 miles east of Moscow.

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Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU, suspects that US-inspired industrial espionage may have caused the May 9 crash in Indonesia of a Sukhoi Superjet 100 – Russia's only hopeful entry in the civilian aviation market – according to Moscow's leading tabloid newspaper, the usually reliable and officially connected Komsomolskaya Pravda.

While most Russian aviation experts contacted today dismissed the sabotage theory, they say there is a deepening mystery about how Russia's most modern civil aircraft, with all its systems apparently functioning perfectly, came to slam into the side of a mile-high volcano during a routine demonstration flight.

"All the theories put forward so far are badly flawed, there is a shortage of hard information and there are a lot of irresponsible rumors," says Roman Gusarov, editor of Avia.ru, an online aviation journal. "I am afraid that Russia is not going to emerge from this story without taking a black eye."

Citing an unnamed GRU general, Komsomolskaya Pravda claimed that electronic jamming of the plane's on board equipment is the most plausible explanation for how the jet, which was making a demonstration flight out of Jakarta airport with 45 people aboard, smashed into a mountainside even though an initial investigation has found that its terrain and collision avoidance systems were all functioning properly.

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