US Releases Video of Drone Encounter With Russian Fighters

The video appears to show a Russian fighter dumping fuel on the MQ-9 drone over the Black Sea

The Pentagon on Thursday released a video that it said showed the encounter a US MQ-9 Reaper drone had with two Russian fighters before being downed over the Black Sea.

The video appears to show a Russian Su-27 flying near the drone and dumping fuel as it passed. The video shows what is either the same plane or a second plane making another pass and releasing more fuel.

The US said one of the Su-27 fighters made contact with the MQ-9’s propeller, causing it to crash. Russia has denied that the aircraft came in contact and said the US drone crashed as a result of a “sharp maneuver” it made after being intercepted.

The video doesn’t show any contact between the drone and the Russian fighters, but one blade of the MQ-9 propeller does appear to be damaged at the end of the 42-second video.

Russia said the US MQ-9 entered an area near Crimea that was restricted due to Russian military operations, while the US claimed the drone was flying a “routine” surveillance mission. The incident highlights the danger of the US operating in the Black Sea, especially while giving so much support to Ukraine in its war against Russia.

The incident prompted Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to call his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoigu. Austin and other US officials have vowed that US flights over the Black Sea will continue despite the risk of escalation. Russian officials have said they’re trying to recover the debris of the MQ-9.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.