Video captures a Russian Su-35 fighter jet harassing and breaking a US Reaper drone by popping flares right above it

11 months ago 58
  • A Russian fighter jet flew "dangerously close" to a US military drone over Syria, the Air Force said.
  • The Su-35 harassed the MQ-9 Reaper drone by releasing flares in its path, damaging the propeller.
  • It's the latest incident of aggressive Russian aircraft maneuvers over the Middle East. 

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A Russian fighter jet recently flew "dangerously close" to a US military combat drone operating above Syria and harassed the unmanned aircraft with flares, the US Air force said on Tuesday. This incident marks the latest demonstration of aggressive behavior by Moscow's pilots in the region.

Just before 12:30 a.m. local time on Sunday, the Russian Su-35 aircraft approached the US MQ-9 Reaper drone as it was carrying out a mission against the Islamic State. After positioning itself just a few meters directly above the Reaper, the Su-35 deployed several flares — one of which struck the drone and "severely" damaged its propeller, the Air Force said in a statement. 

"Fortunately, the MQ-9 crew was able to maintain flight and safely recover the aircraft to its home base," the Air Force said, without disclosing any additional details about the counter-ISIS mission. 

An unclassified video of the incident released by the Air Force shows the Su-35 approach the MQ-9 from behind, getting close enough at one point that the Russian pilot's face is visible in imagery from the incident. Later in the video, the fighter jet can be seen releasing several flares. Photographs published by the US military also show damage to the propeller. 

"The Russian fighter's blatant disregard for flight safety detracts from our mission to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS," Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, the commander of US Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) said in a statement. "We call upon the Russian forces in Syria to put an immediate end to this reckless, unprovoked, and unprofessional behavior."

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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