A Russian fighter jet released flares at a US drone flying over Syria, causing damage after flying dangerously close, according to a US military report from July 23.
According to a senior Air Force commander Lt Gen Alex Grynkewich, the recent incident on Sunday involved a Russian attempt to bring down the MQ-9 Reaper drone, which occurred merely a week after a Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a US surveillance aircraft carrying a crew in the same region, posing a threat to the lives of the four US pilots.
Lt Gen Grynkewich reported that one of the crew members operated the drone remotely, ensuring its continuous flight and safely piloting it back to its home base.
“One of the Russian flares struck the US MQ-9, severely damaging its propeller,” said Lt Gen Grynkewich in the official report. “We call upon the Russian forces in Syria to put an immediate end to this reckless, unprovoked, and unprofessional behavior.”
The Sunday incident is the latest in a series of encounters between Russian fighter jets and US aircraft flying over Syria. All previous encounters involved MQ-9 drones without crew members, except for the one incident a week ago when a Russian Su-35 jet flew dangerously close to a US MC-12 surveillance aircraft with a crew onboard.
“The Russian fighter’s blatant disregard for flight safety detracts from our mission to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS. We call upon the Russian forces in Syria to put an immediate end to this reckless, unprovoked, and unprofessional behavior,” concluded Lt Gen Grynkewich.