The Pentagon on Wednesday released video of what it called “unprofessional behavior” in the skies over Syria by Russian fighter jets “harassing” U.S. military drones.
“Russian SU-35 fighter aircraft close in on U.S. MQ-9 [reaper drone] aircraft on July 5, 2023 over Syria,” the Defense Department said on its DVIDS website which offers Pentagon-approved video and stills. “Additionally, one Russian pilot positioned their aircraft in front of an MQ-9 and engaged afterburner, dynamically increasing speed and air pressure, which reduced the MQ-9 operator’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”
According to the Pentagon, the Russian SU-35 aircraft employed parachute flares in the flight path of the U.S. drones, forcing the drone to conduct evasive maneuvers.
The Pentagon added, “These events represent a new level of unprofessional and unsafe action by Russian air forces operating in Syria.”
Video of the incident can be seen here.
The incident is the latest in a series of dozens that U.S. officials assert are provocative Russian flights over Syria. The Pentagon was prompted in mid-June to deploy F-22 Raptors to deter Russian activity in the skies above U.S. military bases there.
In March, similar harassment by a Russian pilot resulted in a collision with an MQ-9 drone.
“We urge Russian forces in Syria to cease this reckless behavior and adhere to the standards of behavior expected of a professional air force so we can resume our focus on the enduring defeat of ISIS,” said Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the commander of the Ninth Air Force and the combined forces air component commander for U.S. Central Command.