Video shows moment Russian fighter jet hits US drone over Black Sea


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The US military has released footage of a Russian jet crashing into one of its drones over the Black Sea.

The US said the damage to the large drone meant it had to be brought down into the water near Crimea on Tuesday.

Russia denied its Su-27 fighter jet clipped the propeller of the drone, but the video appears to back up the American version of events.

It was in the Pentagon’s interest to release this video – not least to verify its version of events.

The BBC has not seen the events before or after the collision. The US initially said the confrontation lasted around 30-40 minutes, but the released footage lasts for less than a minute.

On Wednesday night, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said: “We remain confident in the facts we’ve conveyed so far.”

He said then the Pentagon was looking at what video could be released. It is not unusual for militaries to take some time to declassify video footage before making it public.

Mr Austin previously described Russia’s actions as dangerous and reckless – and the edited video released appears to back that up.

A feed from a camera fitted under the fuselage of the surveillance drone shows a Russian Su-27 making two extremely close passes while releasing what appears to be fuel as it approaches.

In the first pass it seems to mire the lens of the camera. The second pass is even closer – disrupting the video feed from the remotely piloted aircraft.

When the picture returns a blade of the drone’s propeller at the back of the aircraft can be seen bent out of shape.

Russia has claimed the drone was approaching its territory, but all we can see from the video is sea, sky and cloud.

The US insists the drone was being operated in international air space. However, Moscow appeared to suggest on Tuesday that it had imposed a unilateral no-fly zone over the region as part of its invasion of Ukraine.

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said the drone had “boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation”.

In a statement released hours after the crash, the US said Russian jets dumped fuel on the drone several times before the collision.

Pentagon spokesman Brig Gen Pat Ryder told reporters the drone was “unflyable and uncontrollable”, adding the collision also likely damaged the Russian aircraft.

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.

Senior Washington official John Kirby said the US was also searching for the aircraft, but stressed that if Russia beat them to it, “their ability to exploit useful intelligence will be highly minimised”.

That message was reiterated by General Mark Milley, America’s top military general, who said the US has taken “mitigating measures” to ensure there was nothing of value on the downed drone.

Graphic showing key stills from video

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