Footage has been released of the moment a Russian fighter jet collided with a US drone over the Black Sea.
The US military released the video, which shows two jets swooping towards the drone, with one hitting it. The screen then goes pixellated. The Pentagon accused Russia of a “brazen violation of international law”.
The incident on 14 March saw the drone, which is said to have been on a routine operation in international airspace, attempt to be intercepted by two Russian aircrafts. The US European Command said in a statement that the Russian jets “struck the propeller of the MQ-9 [drone], causing US forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters.”
The statement read: “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.”
The US European Commanded added Su-27 jets flew in front of the drone and dumped fuel in “a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner”. The statement concluded: “This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional.”
Despite the footage, the Russian Defence Ministry has insisted that its jets did not collide with the drone, which has a wingspan of 20 meters, over the Black Sea. According to the group, the US drone sharply manoeuvred and crashed near to the border of Russia, with no contact between the jets or US-operated machinary.
The Russian Defence Ministry said: “As a result of sharp manoeuvre, the US drone went into uncontrollable flight with a loss of altitude” and fell into the water. The Russian fighters didn’t use their weapons, didn’t come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle, and they safely returned to their base.”
The US drone flight was also described as a “provocation” by Russian ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov. He added that there was no reason for US military equipment to be near Russia’s border, however the US has said that the flight was part of a routine operation.
The next day saw British and German Typhoons intercept a Russia fighter above Nato airspace in Estonia. It comes as the war and international relations appear to heating up, with Poland becoming the first Nato country to send fighter jets to Ukraine.