The US military has released dramatic footage of a Russian jet crashing into one of its drones over the Black Sea, after the Kremlin’s denial that its SU-27 clipped the propeller of the drone, the BBC reported.
The crash, which had caused damage to the large drone, meant it had to be brought down into the water near Ukraine on Tuesday (March 14). The 42-second video appears to back up the American version of events.
On Wednesday night (March 15), US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said: "We remain confident in the facts we’ve conveyed so far." He added the Pentagon was looking at what video could be released and it is not unusual for militaries to take some time to declassify video footage before making it public.
Mr Austin previously labelled Russia’s activities as dangerous and reckless, and the edited video released appears to support that assessment. Footage from the spy drone’s under-fuselage camera shows a Russian SU-27 making two extremely near passes while releasing what seems to be fuel as it approaches.
The camera lens appears to be entangled in the first pass. The second pass is considerably closer, causing the camera feed from the remotely flown aircraft to be disrupted. When the image is returned, a bent propeller blade of the drone can be seen at the back of the aircraft.
Russia claims the drone was approaching its land while the US maintains it was operating in international airspace. The footage only shows sea, sky, and clouds. In a statement released hours after the crash, the US said Russian jets dumped fuel on the drone several times before the collision.
Pentagon spokesperson Brig Gen Pat Ryder said the drone was "unflyable and uncontrollable", adding the collision also likely damaged the Russian aircraft. Meanwhile, Russia’s defence ministry said the drone crashed after a "sharp manoeuvre", and that it was flying with its transponders (communication devices) turned off.
The Kremlin has not yet responded to the release of the US video. On Wednesday, Russia’s security council secretary Nikolai Patrushev said attempts were being made to find and retrieve the remnants of the drone. On Thursday, Russian ships were seen at the site of the downed drone on the Black Sea, US media reported.