Dramatic moment Russian fighter jet downs US drone over Black Sea


Dramatic footage of the crash between a Russian fighter jet and a US surveillance drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday has been released by the US military’s European Command. The video, which was recently declassified, captures significant moments of the mid-air altercation that lasted approximately 30-40 minutes according to the Pentagon.

The MQ-9 Reaper drone’s camera shows its tail and rear-mounted propeller spinning before the approaching Russian Sukhoi SU-27 fighter jet dumps fuel as it intercepts the US drone.

The Russian fighter jet makes another pass in the footage and drops fuel as it gets closer.

As a result, the footage from the drone is cut short. Russia has disputed that there was a collision.

When the camera turns around, the view is once more rearward, and the damaged propeller is visible.

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The drone’s pilots then had to operate it like a glider as it descended over the Black Sea with a damaged propeller, and it landed in international seas southwest of Crimea.

According to two US officials, the operators of the MQ-9 Reaper drone wiped its sensitive software remotely as it descended into the Black Sea, in order to prevent any classified information from being accessed by the enemy.

The drone has not yet been retrieved, and it is uncertain whether it will be recovered. Moscow had previously stated that they would attempt to retrieve the wreckage, and CNN has reported that Russian officials had reached the crash site.

However, the US National Security Council’s communications coordinator, John Kirby, did not confirm this, but said that even if there were remnants of the drone on the water’s surface, the US had taken measures to prevent any intelligence value from being obtained from them.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley have spoken to their Russian counterparts about the destruction of the U.S. drone.

The calls with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov on Wednesday were the first since October.

While intercept attempts are not uncommon, the incident amid the war in Ukraine has raised concerns it could bring the United States and Russia closer to direct conflict.

That the two countries’ top defence and military leaders were talking so soon after the encounter over the Black Sea underscored its seriousness.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters earlier Wednesday that Russia has declared certain areas of the Black Sea off-limits to any aerial traffic during the conflict and suggested the U.S. was trying to provoke an escalation through the flights.

The drone crashed near Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014 and illegally annexed.

Lavrov said: “Any incidents that could provoke confrontation between the two great powers, the two largest nuclear powers, raise very serious risks.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said Shoigu, in the call with Austin, noted that the flights of U.S. drones near Crimea were “provocative” and risked escalating tensions in the Black Sea.


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