On Tuesday, the United States military claimed a Russian fighter jet collided with a Air Force MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drone over the Black Sea. Now there is footage of the incident.
The Russian SU-27 fighter jet crashed into the US military drone over international waters causing it to fall into the water below. Any sensitive information was wiped from the drone before it crashed into the sea, US officials reported.
According to a press release by US European Command, “Two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept with a U.S. Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance unmanned MQ-9 aircraft that was operating within international airspace.”
The statement added, “Several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner. This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional.”
“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash.”
“U.S. and Allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace and we call on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely,” Hecker added.
On Thursday, newly declassified video footage of the Russian jet collision was released by the Pentagon.
From The Debrief…
The video opens with the MQ-9’s underside camera facing backward as a Russian Sukhoi SU-27 fighter jet rapidly approaches the starboard side of the drone. As the Russian fighter draws closer, it is seen releasing a stream of jet fuel while dramatically overtaking the unarmed drone.
In another portion of the video, a Russian fighter jet is again seen flying toward the starboard side of the MQ-9. In this second pass, the Russian fighter approaches at a much lower altitude than the first pass, with the fighter appearing to make a steep angled climb as it nears the U.S. surveillance drone.
Once again the fighter is seen dumping jet fuel during its approach. However, as the jet overtakes the MQ-9, the drone’s video feed is suddenly disrupted, and the image becomes pixelated into color bars.
After several seconds, the video feed returns, with the camera facing backward and revealing apparent damage to the MQ-9’s rear propeller. At least one of the propeller blades appears to be bent, damage that was clearly not present in the earlier segment of the video.
The video shows 43 seconds of the nearly 40 minute-long incident, according to the Department of Defense.
The US has released the first footage from the surveillance drone that crashed over the Black Sea, showing a Russian fighter jet passing close to the unmanned aircraft and dumping fuel on it. Read more here: https://t.co/EPNHNm63d1 pic.twitter.com/VfE0FIsrcv
— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) March 16, 2023
Russia, despite the video, has denied its fighter made any contact with the US drone, claiming in a statement by Russia’s Defense Ministry, “The U.S. drone went into uncontrollable flight with a loss of altitude and fell into the water.”
Also on Thursday, US Senator Marco Rubio told CBS Mornings, “I think our response should be to fly more of these in that area and to potentially have them escorted by U.S. fighter jets that are manned.”
Sen. @marcorubio reacts to an American drone crashing into the Black Sea after a confrontation with a Russian fighter jet: “I think our response should be to fly more of these in that area and to potentially have them escorted by U.S. fighter jets that are manned." pic.twitter.com/emWpYxOJKW
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) March 16, 2023