Two days ago, the U.S. Armed Forces claimed that a Russian Su-27 aircraft crashed into a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 drone over the Black Sea, causing the MQ-9 to fall into the water below. Today, U.S. European Command has released declassified footage of the incident.
The initial report from U.S. European Command said that the crash happened at 7:03 a.m. Central European Time, or 2:03 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, on Tuesday morning. The Russian Su-27 aircraft reportedly dumped fuel from its tanks “several times before the collision,” says the U.S. Air Forces in Europe. U.S. European Command further claimed that it was conducting “routine operations in international airspace” and that Russia’s intercept was an “unsafe and unprofessional intercept.”
In the video, the Russian Su-27 can be seen approaching the drone’s starboard side, and—according to U.S. Armed Forces—dumping fuel before slamming into the MQ-9. The video then gets staticky in the wake of the impact before the camera pans to the fuselage and tail of the drone, likely to assess damage. U.S. Air Forces Europe also claimed that there was a second Russian Su-27 in flight at the time.
“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” said James B. Hecker, commander of the U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa in the initial press release on Tuesday.
At a press conference later that day Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder was initially wishy-washy on where, exactly the crash occurred, reiterating that it was in international air space, but later confirmed that it wasn’t anywhere near Ukraine. At that time, Ryder further revealed that the Department of Defense hadn’t yet spoken to Russian officials about the incident, and wouldn’t elaborate on if the U.S. had plans to retrieve the drone from the Black Sea.
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