Recently, the US European Command shared a declassified video of a mid-air encounter between a US surveillance drone and Russian fighter jets over the Black Sea. The footage shows the MQ-9 Reaper drone’s camera pointed towards its tail and the drone’s rear-mounted propeller spinning. As a Russian Sukhoi SU-27 fighter jet approaches, it dumps fuel while intercepting the US drone, leading to its downing in the Black Sea. Russian vessels arrived at the crash site almost immediately after the incident, and the Biden administration has not yet decided to take any action against Russia.
Footage of Russia Fighter taking down US Reaper Drone over Black Sea.
Moscow is laughing at Biden. pic.twitter.com/prham1v0Kd
— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) March 16, 2023
The footage released by the US European Command illustrates a few critical moments of the encounter that lasted between 30 and 40 minutes. The video confirms that a physical collision occurred between the Russian fighter jet and the US drone and shows the dumping of fuel. However, the pilot’s intent cannot be confirmed through the video.
This incident marked the first direct physical contact between Russian and US military aircraft since the beginning of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Despite the release of dramatic footage and a back-and-forth regarding who is to blame, the Biden administration has not yet decided to take any action against Russia. This decision may indicate a desire to avoid escalating tensions, especially as relations between Moscow and Washington are already at their lowest point.
Two US officials familiar with intelligence shared with CNN that senior officials at the Russian Ministry of Defense gave the order to harass the US drone over the Black Sea this week. The connection of these high-level military officials to the incident suggests that the fighter jet pilots were not taking rogue action when they interfered with the US drone.
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