US Releases Video of Russian SU-27s Attacking MQ-9 Drone Over Black Sea

U.S. European Command released video of Russian SU-27s attack that led to the downing of an MQ-9 drone over the Black Sea Tuesday morning. Two SU-27 harassed the MQ-9 by spraying fuel on it before clipping and damaging a propeller on a close pass in international airspace, reportedly about sixty miles off the coast of Russian-annexed Crimea.

US Releases Video of Russian SU-27s Attacking MQ-9 Drone Over Black Sea

A timeline of the attack was also released:

STUTTGART, Germany – U.S. European Command released declassified footage of a Russian Su-27 aircraft conducting an unsafe/unprofessional intercept of a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 in international airspace over the Black Sea, March 14. In addition to the footage, a storyboard of the events with declassified stills from the MQ-9 footage is also released.

The following is a summary of the video:
00:00: [Start of video] A Russian Su-27 approaches to the rear of the U.S. Air Force MQ-9.
00:05: A Russian Su-27 begins to release fuel as it passes.
00:09 A Russian Su-27 passes over the U.S. Air Force MQ-9 while releasing fuel. As the Su-27 passes over the top of the MQ-9, it also disrupts the video transmission.
00:11: The propeller of the U.S. Air Force MQ-9 can be seen and remains undamaged.
00:22: A Russian Su-27 begins a second approach toward the MQ-9.
00:27: A Russian Su-27 begins to release fuel on the approach toward the
MQ-9. The Su-27 proceeds to pass even closer.
00:29: A Russian Su-27 collides with the MQ-9 and the MQ-9’s camera feed is lost for approximately 60 seconds.
00:39: The MQ-9’s camera feed has returned to working order. At this time the propeller can be seen again and one of the props can be seen damaged.
00:42: [End of video]

A purported video clip from one of the Russian planes was leaked on Wednesday:

Reporters reposted the U.S. video along with screen images:

AFP illustration of the MQ-9:

Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov spoke to reporters in Russian and English on Tuesday about the Black Sea incident:

Russia has said it will try to retrieve the U.S. drone. The Pentagon said Wednesday the U.S. has no ships in the Black Sea and will be relying on allies for help in its efforts to salvage the drone.

The Kremlin warned the U.S. on Wednesday, reported NBC News (excerpt):

The Kremlin has warned the United States to cease “hostile” activity near its borders and said it would seek to retrieve the wreckage of the American drone that crashed into the Black Sea after a dramatic encounter with Russian fighter jets.

Kyiv said Wednesday that the incident — the first known direct confrontation between the two superpowers since Russia invaded Ukraine last year — illustrated the Kremlin’s desire to expand the conflict.

The U.S. military said a Russian fighter jet harassed and then collided with the propeller of the MQ-9 Reaper on Tuesday, forcing the U.S. to bring the drone down in international waters. Washington said it was a “brazen violation of international law” and summoned Moscow’s envoy to lodge a protest.

…Earlier, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. said that Washington should “refrain from further speculations in the media landscape and stop making sorties near the Russian borders.”

Speaking after his meeting at the State Department, Anatoly Antonov said: “We perceive any actions involving the use of American weapons and military equipment as openly hostile,” according to a statement published on the embassy’s Telegram on Wednesday.

He insisted that the Kremlin’s fighter jets didn’t hit the American drone or use their weapons. He echoed earlier assertions from the Russian Defense Ministry, which said it had scrambled planes to intercept the drone after it intruded into an area near Crimea that Moscow had declared off limits for the purposes of what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

By Kristinn Taylor

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