US military releases footage of Russian warplane forcing down Air Force drone
The U.S. military released footage of what it described as an “unsafe” and “unprofessional” intercept by a Russian warplane that forced down an Air Force surveillance drone over the Black Sea.
The 42-second video footage shows a Russian Su-27 approaching the back of the U.S. MQ-9 drone on Tuesday and dumping fuel as it passes, European Command said. Officials said the warplane made a second pass at the unpiloted drone, again dumping fuel, before colliding with the drone.
The camera feed was lost for 30 seconds after the collision, according to officials who added that when the video feed was restored, it showed that one of the drone’s propellers was damaged.
U.S. officials said on Tuesday that Russian jets brought down the drone, prompting concerns that the incident could lead to further escalation. The U.S. blasted Russia’s behavior, with national security spokesperson John Kirby calling it “unprofessional” and “unsafe.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday that “the United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows.”
Russia has maintained that its jet did not collide with the U.S. drone, and that the drone crashed on its own. Both countries have signaled that they are interested in recovering the $32 million drone in the Black Sea.