Video supposedly shows Russian Su-27’s encounter with MQ-9 drone

A video emerged which reportedly shows a near miss involving a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper and a Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet.  These are the two types which were involved in a collision over the Black Sea yesterday. 

Since this incident took place, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has offered his thoughts on it and described it as a “hazardous episode [that] is part of a pattern of aggressive, risky, and unsafe actions by Russian pilots in international airspace.”

The four-second video was reportedly first posted to the Telegram Messenger service by the popular pro-Russian Fighter bomber account earlier today, allegedly filmed from the cockpit of a Flanker-series fighter, most likely a first-generation Su-27, however this has not yet been confirmed.  The video shows a close flyby of a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 off the port side of the jet.

The wingtip of a Flanker-series fighter jet can be seen in the foreground as it passes by an MQ-9. via Telegram Messenger

The Reaper itself is a later-model MQ-9A with a four-bladed propeller, winglets, a range-extending underwing fuel tank, and a large vertical blade antenna. 

The close flyby is largely concurrent with statements from U.S. officials yesterday, confirming that the Su-27 involved in the collision passed the drone on several occasions. It is possible that the video may have been taken from the second Su-27 involved or also taken from a separate incident.

The dramatic speed differential between Su-27 and MQ-9 are also apparent in the video. This is one factor that has been raised as a possible reason for the collision, with the Su-27 pilot having accidently hit the drone when the latter adjusted its speed or flight profile. Sources familiar with MQ-9 operations have told The War Zone that even minor changes in power power changes can lead to relatively rapid deceleration for the MQ-9.

The video doesn’t show any aggressive maneuvers that were reportedly carried out by the Russian fighter. These included dumping fuel on and flying directly in front of the MQ-9 before the Su-27 allegedly collided with the drone’s propeller.

Secretary Austin confirmed that the United States will continue to fly and operate “wherever international law allows.” He added: “It is incumbent upon Russia to operate its military aircraft in a safe and professional manner.”

A U.S. military official, who has asked not to be named, has provided a more detailed description of the incident, based on a video from the MQ-9 they have seen. The official told Nick Schifrin of PBS that the contact between jet and drone “was not a controlled tap,” and that the Russian pilot was “barreling toward the drone,” “out of control,” when they hit the propeller. “Not something you’d see a professional pilot do. It was amateur hour,” the official went onto say.




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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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