US Releases Video of Russian Jet Colliding With American Drone
Video footage from an American drone shows a Russian jet approaching it over the Black Sea.
The Su-27 fighter jet is releasing fuel as it flies towards the MQ-9 U.S. Air Force drone on March 14, in the footage released by the U.S. military on Thursday.
The clips also show the jet colliding with the drone and damaging a propeller.
American officials said the impact forced U.S. personnel to bring the drone down, resulting in a “complete loss.”
The clips were strung together in sequential order in the declassified video, the U.S. military said. Officials said it was edited for length. No footage was released of events that occurred before or after the incident.
U.S. officials have condemned the Russian actions as dangerous.
“This hazardous episode is part of a pattern of aggressive, risky, and unsafe actions by Russian pilots in international airspace,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters in a press conference this week.
Austin spoke to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu after the incident and “emphasized that the United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows,” according to a Pentagon readout of the call.
Shoigu told his U.S. counterpart that U.S. drone flights near Crimea’s coast were “provocative in nature” and could lead to “an escalation … in the Black Sea zone,” a statement from Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
Russia has “no interest” in escalation “but will in future react in due proportion” and the two countries should “act with a maximum of responsibility,” including by having military lines of communication in a crisis, the ministry said.
Russia has said the episode showed Washington was directly participating in the Ukraine war, something the West has taken pains to avoid.
During the first part of the video, the drone’s propeller was undamaged. After the Su-27 approached the drone for the second time, the drone’s camera feed goes down. When it returns to working order, the propeller was damaged.
U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, told reporters that the intercept and the aggressive behavior was intentional, though it was not yet clear whether the Russians intentionally forced the drone down.
“As far as an act of war goes, I’m not going to go there,” he said. “Incidents happen and clearly, we do not seek armed conflict with Russia. And I believe that at this point we should investigate this incident and move on from there. But we will continue to exercise our rights in international airspace.”
Reuters contributed to this report.