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Russian jet damages US drone, flies ‘dangerously close’

A Russian Su-27 fighter jet flies across the flight path of a U.S. B-52 bomber, Aug. 28, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo/Released)
July 25, 2023

A Russian fighter jet damaged a U.S. drone in Syria on Sunday, as the Russian aircraft flew close to the drone and fired flares as the American aircraft, which hit the drone’s propeller.

Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, Commander, 9th AF and Combined Forces Air Component, reported Tuesday, “On 23 July, 2023 at 12:23 a.m. (EST) Russian fighter aircraft flew dangerously close to a U.S. MQ-9 drone on a defeat-ISIS mission, harassing the MQ-9 and deploying flares from a position directly overhead, with only a few meters of separation between aircraft.”

Grynkewich explained that one of the flares fired by the Russian aircraft hit the MQ-9 and “severely” damaged the propeller. Despite the damage to the drone, the commander noted that the MQ-9 crew was able to “safely recover the aircraft” by navigating it back to the base.

According to The Associated Press, the Russian jet flew just a few meters away from the U.S. drone before firing the flares at it and damaging the drone, marking another incident in a growing list of incidents with Russian aircraft harassing U.S. aircraft in the Syrian region in recent months.

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“The Russian fighter’s blatant disregard for flight safety detracts from our mission to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS,” Grynkewich said. “We call upon the Russian forces in Syria to put an immediate end to this reckless, unprovoked, and unprofessional behavior.”

Grynkewich’s comments reference a growing pattern of behavior exhibited by the Russian military in Syria. According to Fox news, Russian SU-35 fighters had a close encounter with multiple U.S. drones on July 6. During that encounter, the Russian fighters also fired flares at the U.S. aircraft. A similar instance was reported less than 24 hours before on July 5 as well, according to Fox News.