Yeah, I was watching Firefox last night. So in a real world situation, say a Russian pilot goes rogue and tries to defect to the US. He makes it into Alaskan territory before pursuers catch him and gun him down. No locals are harmed in the flaming crash.
What criminal action has taken place? I assume shooting down a plane over another country’s air space is probably an act of war, but what if it is their own plane?
Assuming one defecting aircraft and one pursuing aircraft, there’s two violations of the North American ADIZ. Currently, Russian ADIZ violators are intercepted and shadowed rather intensely. If they (the Russians) were to fire their weapons while being intensely shadowed within the N.A. ADIZ, there’s a fair chance they could be shot down before the situation could be explained/defused.
When superpowers get into scuffles, there is no law. Just naked force and one side’s willingness to retaliate. There is no one to take a matter like this to that either superpower has to listen to. In the Vietnam and Korean wars, both superpowers were flagrantly violating many of the “rules” governing armed conflict. Similarly, the Russians shot down a civilian airliner just a few years ago and I haven’t heard of any real consequences for them…
What this means is that if the Russians had shot down their own plane over Alaska, the USA would either have retaliated or not, depending on their whim. They could shoot down both planes. Neither. Go bomb a base in Siberia in retaliation. Whatever they decide, the only consequence for them would be if Russia had decided to escalate in response.
War does indeed have considerable legal limitations attached to it, so using the language of law in relation to war is perfectly fine. Mandatory in some contexts, even.
But, the point is taken that people sometimes labor under the belief that there is a list of things that constitute an act of war which necessitates certain actions, as though there’s a penal code that says “If you do X, you can be imprisoned for 20 years; if you do Y, only 5 years, etc.” The issue isn’t speaking of war as a legal matter, it’s speaking of war as though there is a fair system to adjudicate proper responses. (Which is probably your point, my language nitpicking notwithstanding.)
If a Russian fighter escaped Russia, and other Russian planes pursued it into US territory, the US would clearly be within its well-recognized rights to shoot down the pursuing fighter, on the basis of the territorial violation which is clearly unrelated to any innocent passage.
Whether the US would wish to do so, or what the US would do if the invading fighters were successful in destroying the escaping plane, are matters for policy makers to decide how best to respond. The options range from doing nothing to going to war.
Ironically, it sounds that the issue is whether the launching platform is in enemy territory or not, as opposed to the missiles entering airspace. So if Russian fighters used an extremely-long-ranged missile to shoot down a defecting Russian jet that was in Alaskan airspace (firing that missile while *not *in U.S. airspace,) Russia might not technically have violated US airspace.
A live, guided weapon, fired into the NA ADIZ from outside, is definitely an ADIZ violation. Depending on the ROE in place at the time of the incident, the intercepting US fighters might not even have to call Mom/Dad for permission to return fire at that point.
I’m by no means an expert, but I have had some North American ADIZ experience and training, while providing tanker support for Noble Eagle operational & training flights.