The U.S. Military Releases Footage Of Black Sea Drone Crash With Russian Jet | Old North State Wealth News
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The U.S. military releases footage of Black Sea drone crash with Russian jet



A Russian Su-27 fighter jet releases fuel as it approaches the rear of a U.S. Air Force MQ-9, in what the Pentagon says was “an unsafe and unprofessional intercept” over the Black Sea.

U.S. European Command video / Screenshot by NPR

The U.S. European Command has declassified footage showing the moments when two Russian fighter jets flew very close to a U.S. drone over the Black Sea, dumping fuel on it — and, the Pentagon says, eventually flying into the drone. The video footage appears to show the U.S. craft was damaged by a collision.

The release of the video comes two days after the Pentagon said a Russian Su-27 fighter clipped the propeller of an uncrewed MQ-9 Reaper drone that was operating in international airspace, forcing it down into the water. The Kremlin says its jets did not make contact with the drone.

The footage gives brief glimpses of the encounter, which U.S. officials say lasted for at least a half hour. The Pentagon says the video depicts events in the order they happened, although it was edited to condense the action.

In the 42-second video, a Russian Su-27 aircraft is seen approaching from the drone’s rear quarter, releasing a plume of fuel as it pulls upward and over the drone, causing the footage to partially pixelate. The camera recovers as the fighter jet pulls away, showing the drone’s rear-mounted propeller in normal working condition.

The footage then shows what the Pentagon says is an “even closer” pass from a Russian jet.

Approaching from what looks to be a lower angle, the Su-27 releases more fuel and its fuselage is seen coming extremely close to the drone before the video cuts out entirely. The Pentagon says the camera feed was lost for around 60 seconds.

When the feed returns, the camera, which is mounted beneath the MQ-9, pivots to show the drone’s propeller has been partially mangled.

Shortly afterward, the aircraft crashed into the Black Sea off the southern coast of Ukraine — a country that the U.S. and dozens of other countries are supporting in its war against Russia. The U.S. has been monitoring movements by Russian troops and warships in the area.

The U.S. European Command described the encounter as “an unsafe and unprofessional intercept.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, listens as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley discusses the downed MQ-9 drone during a press conference at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, U.S. Army General Mark Milley said he wasn’t sure whether the Russian jet had intentionally made contact with the U.S. drone.

“Was it intentional or not? Don’t know yet. We know the intercept was intentional. We know the aggressive behavior was intentional. We also know it was very unprofessional,” he said.

As for whether the U.S. will seek to recover the downed drone, Milley said on Wednesday that the aircraft crashed in waters that are 4,000 or 5,000 feet deep, making any recovery operation difficult. But he also said the Pentagon is looking at options — which would include its allies, he said, because the U.S. doesn’t have “any naval surface vessels in the Black Sea at this time.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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