WASHINGTON — A Russian fighter jet broken an American MQ-9 Reaper drone early Sunday in the most recent harmful air encounter with the US army over Syria, the Air Force stated Tuesday.
The Russian plane flew “dangerously shut” to the US drone at roughly 12:23 a.m. native time, “harassing the MQ-9 and deploying flares from a place immediately overhead, with only some meters of separation between plane,” US Air Forces Central commander Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich stated in a press release.
Dramatic video reveals the Russian plane approaching the Reaper drone, coming so shut that the American craft’s digital camera captured pictures of the pilot within the cockpit.
Soon after, the footage cuts to the Russian jet flying excessive of the American drone and deploying 4 flares — at the least certainly one of which struck the Reaper, “severely damaging its propeller,” AFCENT stated.
Images launched alongside the video present a big, black burn mark close to the tip of the propeller, which was bent and mangled by the warmth and drive of the flare.
However, the injury was not sufficient to take the drone out of the sky, in response to Grynkewich.
“Fortunately, the MQ-9 crew was capable of preserve flight and safely recuperate the plane to its house base,” he stated.
As in comparable incidents this month, the drone was conducting a mission in opposition to ISIS in Syria when Russia interfered.
The US has not stated what could have provoked the Russian conduct or exactly the place over Syria every incident happened.
“The Russian fighter’s blatant disregard for flight security detracts from our mission to make sure the enduring defeat of ISIS,” Grynkewich stated. “We name upon the Russian forces in Syria to place a direct finish to this reckless, unprovoked and unprofessional conduct.”
The newest conflict got here one week after one other Russian Su-35 jet flew near a manned US MC-12 plane “in an unsafe and unprofessional method” that was “in opposition to established norms and protocols,” in response to Grynkewich.
The incident pressured the American twin-engine turboprop plane to fly by means of the Su-35’s wake turbulence, which diminished the crew’s capacity to soundly function the plane and put the 4 crew members’ lives in danger, he stated.
Sunday’s encounter additionally got here lower than three weeks after Russian plane dropped a sequence of flares in entrance of American drones in back-to-back incidents July 5 and 6, making harmful maneuvers round American MQ-9 Reapers additionally focusing on ISIS over Syria.
In video launched by the Air Force earlier this month, a number of Su-35s may very well be seen deploying flares in entrance of three of the unmanned US plane.
At one level, a Russian jet minimize in entrance of one of many drones and activated its afterburner, which diminished the power to soundly function the US plane.
Days later, the identical three MQ-9 Reaper drones have been used to kill senior ISIS chief Usamah al-Muhajir in japanese Syria, in response to US Central Command.