US Releases Video of Black Sea Drone Encounter With Russian Jets

The US European Command has released footage showing an interaction between an American reconnaissance aircraft and two Russian fighter jets over the Black Sea on Tuesday, March 14, which resulted in the downing of the American drone.

Footage captured by the MQ-9 drone shows Russian fighter jets dumping fuel and what the US European Command said was one of the jets hitting a drone propeller.

Pentagon spokesman Brig Gen Patrick Ryder told reporters on Tuesday that the drone was flying over international waters when it was intercepted by Russian Su-27s.

“Several times before the collision the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless and unprofessional manner,” Ryder said. “This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional.”

Ryder added that the US routinely operates drones “over sovereign territory and throughout international airspace in coordination with applicable host nation and international laws” and called on Russia “to conduct themselves professionally and safely.”

In a statement cited in state media, the Russian Ministry of Defense said the American drone flew “near the Crimean Peninsula in the direction of the state border of the Russian Federation,” adding that: “The drone flew with its transponders off, violating the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation, communicated to all users of international airspace, and published in accordance with international standards.”

The ministry denied that Russian aircraft had interacted with the drone, saying: “The Russian aircraft did not use on-board weapons, did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle, and returned safely to their home airfield.” Credit: DVIDS via Storyful