The US Air Force (USAF) on Thursday released a video taken by the MQ-9 Reaper drone that was hit by a Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet while flying over the Black Sea in international waters on March 14.
The 42-second recording shows two attempts by Russian Air Force pilots to stop the drone from gathering information about the conflict in Ukraine.
Instead of missiles or cannons, which would trigger a deliberate attack, the two Su-27s throw fuel over the MQ-9 in an attempt to damage it or prevent data collection.
On the second high-speed pass, however, the Flanker ends up colliding with one of the drone’s rear propeller blades.
Soon after the contact, the recording is lost, but seconds later the power is resumed, when it is possible to notice the damaged blade.
The US Air Force then decided to destroy the MQ-9 by dropping the aircraft into the Black Sea.
Joe Biden’s government condemned the reckless maneuvers of Russian pilots. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash,” stated the U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa.
Initially, Russia denied that the pilots hit the US drone, blaming the crash on maneuvers made by the unmanned aircraft’s controllers.