BREAKING: Watch Dramatic New Footage of Russian Fighter Jets Harassing a U.S. Drone
The Pentagon has released footage of two Russian Su-27 fighter jets intercepting an American MQ-9 Reaper drone and forcing it to crash land in the Black Sea.
The Russian fighter jets performed harassing actions before damaging the drone.
The lack of a human pilot in jeopardy means the U.S. military will not likely respond directly to the attack.
On Thursday morning, the Pentagon released a declassified video of what happened moments before Russian fighter jets collided with and forced down an uncrewed American drone over the Black Sea earlier this week.
In the 42-second video, an Su-27 “Flanker” fighter is seen spraying jet fuel on an Air Force intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance unmanned MQ-9 aircraft. Two Russian Su-27s dumped the substance “upon and struck the propeller of the MQ-9,” the Pentagon said, “causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters.” The footage doesn’t show the actual collision, which happened early Tuesday morning and which the Pentagon calls “unsafe and unprofessional.”
Watch the footage here, via the U.S. European Command:
On Tuesday, EUCCOM said the Russian Su-27 fighter jets acted in an “unsafe and unprofessional” manner while intercepting the MQ-9 Reaper drone. The Russian fighters flew in front of the drone while dumping fuel from their fuel tanks, then clipped the uncrewed aircraft’s propeller.
EUCOM said that the Russian pilots acted in a “a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner.” It went on to say that “this incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional.”
The MQ-9 Reaper drone, crippled in the collision, was brought down into the Black Sea by its controllers.
This is not the first time Russian fighter jets have harassed American planes over the Black Sea.
In 2018, the U.S. accused a Su-27 of acting in an unsafe and professional manner in an intercept of an EP-3 Aries II intelligence-gathering aircraft. In 2021, three French fighter jets came in for a similar treatment. Shortly before Russia invaded Crimea, the U.S. Navy complained that three P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft made unprofessional intercepts over the Black Sea. In October 2022, a Su-27 fired a missile in the vicinity of a Royal Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft.
Although there is a long history of unsafe and unprofessional intercepts, no aircraft have been downed—until now.
The Su-27 Flanker is a Cold War-era twin engine fighter in the same size and weight class as the F-15 Eagle. The MQ-9 Reaper is an attack drone that serves with the U.S. Air Force. The MQ-9 also has useful intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities in the form of its Multi-Spectral Targeting System, which includes an infrared sensor, color, monochrome daylight TV camera, shortwave infrared camera, laser designator, and laser illuminator. MTS can relay full motion, real time video to ground controllers.
The U.S. will not likely respond to the MQ-9 downing. The lack of a pilot in danger means Washington can brush it off—and it should. The U.S. is providing billions in aid to Ukraine that is resulting in the deaths of thousands of invading Russian troops, and this sort of direct retaliation was inevitable. That said, endangered human pilots would be, to put it lightly, a completely different ball game.
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