The Department of Defense released video early Thursday of an incident over the Black Sea Tuesday that shows two Russian Su-27 aircraft flying within feet of a U.S. MQ-9 drone.
The Pentagon said the Russian aircraft dumped fuel upon and struck the propeller of the MQ-9. The Pentagon said the encounters forced the U.S. to bring the drone down over international waters.
U.S. officials said the incident was an act of aggression by Russia.
“This hazardous episode is a part is part of a pattern of aggressive, risky, and unsafe actions by Russian pilots in international airspace,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
On Wednesday, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said the Russian intercept was intentional but does not know if it was intentional for the pilots to fly their planes so close.
“The actual contact of the fixed-wing Russian fighter with our UAV, the physical contact with those two, not sure yet,” he said. “That remains to be seen. I can tell you with certainty, though, that we have absolute evidence of the contact, the intercepts, et cetera. And it's very aggressive."
Milley said the U.S. conducted mitigating measures and there wouldn’t be any sensitive intelligence on board the drone.
“We are quite confident that whatever was of value is no longer of value,” he said.
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