Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

U.S. accuses Russia of harassing its drones

U.S. accuses Russia of harassing its military drones in Syria


For the second time in two days, Russian fighter jets on Thursday engaged in “unsafe and unprofessional behavior” towards U.S. Air Force drones over Syria, U.S. military officials said.  

MQ-9 Reaper drones were carrying out an operation against Islamic State targets at about 9:30 a.m. local time Thursday when several Russian jets “dropped flares in front of the drones and flew dangerously close,” according to a statement from Lt. Gen. Alexus G. Grynkewich, commander of the Ninth Air Force, an Air Force Service Component of U.S. Central Command.

Video of the confrontation was also released by the Air Force. No further details were provided.

It followed a similar incident Wednesday morning, also over Syria, in which three MQ-9 drones were harassed by three Russian fighter jets while also on a mission against ISIS, the Air Force said.

In that instance, according to Grynkewich, the jets dropped “multiple parachute flares in front of the drones,” subsequently forcing them to “conduct evasive maneuvers.”

This marks at least the third such confrontation this year between U.S. drones and Russian fighter jets. The Pentagon in March released video of a Russian fighter jet colliding with an Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone in international air space, causing the drone to crash into the Black Sea.

“The United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows, and it is incumbent upon Russia to operate its military aircraft in a safe and professional manner,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the time.

According to the Air Force, an MQ-9 Reaper drone is primarily used for intelligence gathering, but can also be equipped with up to eight laser-guided Hellfire missiles.  

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