On Tuesday, February 14, two Su-27 fighter jets intercepted and shot down an American MQ-9 drone flying over the Black Sea. The drone had taken off from Câmpia Turzii in Romania and was in international airspace, over the sea, thus outside the borders. To avoid any doubt about the veracity of these accusations against the Russian military, the US has declassified the video footage of the incident, recorded by cameras on board the drone.
Dangerous manoeuvres can be seen in the video clip declassified by the Americans
In the attached video you can see the maneuvers that one of the Russian Su-27 planes is doing around this drone. It appears that only one of them approached, but two planes were in flight at the time. The Russian pilot flies in very close proximity to the American equipment, and at one point appears to spray the drone with fuel from its tank. At one point, because of the close proximity, you can probably see how the drone’s propeller has been damaged. This resulted in the drone crashing into the Black Sea.
However, it appears that the Russian planes did not open fire on the drone, probably in order not to escalate the conflict. It is unclear whether Russia really wanted to shoot down the drone or those maneuvers were done more to intimidate the pilot from a distance to leave that area.
“The MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian-origin aircraft, which resulted in the crash and complete loss of the MQ-9 aircraft,” said James B. Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa.
US authorities have not given many more details about the incident, such as plans to recover the crashed aircraft, or whether Russian authorities have been contacted about the incident. However, they have classified these manoeuvres by Russian pilots as “an unsafe and unprofessional interception”.