For the second time in one day, Russian jets shadowed American drones circled around them and dropped flares in front of them. According to the Air Force, the Russian military’s irresponsible actions necessitated evasive measures from the MQ-9 Reapers.
Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, issued a warning to the Russian armed forces in Syria. They requested that we “refocus on the ongoing defeat of ISIS” by behaving as one would expect from a professional air force.
According to Col. Michael Andrews, spokesperson for Air Forces Central Command, the Russians harassed the MQ-9 for approximately one hour. The incident involved close fly-bys from an SU-34 and an SU-35, along with the direct deployment of flares into the MQ-9.
U.S. Air Forces Central published footage documenting two distinct occurrences on Wednesday and Thursday.
Around 10:40 a.m. on Wednesday, September 6, 2018, in Northwest Syria, Russian SU-35 fighters approached a Reaper drone. One of the Russian pilots positioned their aircraft in front of the drone and activated the SU-35’s afterburner, which significantly boosted its speed and air pressure.
Grynkewich states that the drone pilot’s safety is at risk due to the jet explosion caused by the afterburner, which could potentially damage the Reaper’s electronics.
The drones were unarmed and mainly used for surveillance.
No additional details were provided about the drone mission.
Around 900 American troops are currently in Syria, helping the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces combat Islamic State extremists.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group’s founder, was one of three ISIS leaders to be eliminated since the ‘caliphate’ fell in 2019. October was the most recent passing.
These incidents happened a few months after a Russian fighter shot down a U.S. drone over the Black Sea. Video footage showed a Su-27 jet hitting the propeller of the MQ-9 Reaper and spilling gasoline on it in international airspace.