The U.S. Department of Defense has released a video purporting to show a Russian fighter jet dumping fuel on a US surveillance drone, causing damage to the drone’s propeller, The Associated Press reports.
The incident took place in international airspace over the Black Sea.
According to the Pentagon, the 42-second video shows a Russian Su-27 approaching the MQ-9 drone from the back and pouring fuel on it as it passes, with the intention of disrupting the drone’s optical instruments and driving it out of the area.
The same or another Russian fighter then struck the drone’s propeller, causing damage to one of the blades.
The U.S. military said it had to ditch the MQ-9 Reaper in the sea after the incident, which it deemed an unsafe intercept of the unmanned aerial vehicle.
Russia has denied any wrongdoing, stating that its warplanes did not strike the drone, and that the unmanned aerial vehicle went down after making a sudden turn over the sea.
Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov argued that potentially armed American aircraft should not be flying near Russian borders.
“I explained the position of the Russian Federation,” Antonov stated. “I stressed that the American UAV that was moving deliberately and provocatively towards the Russian territory with its transponders turned off violated the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation, which was communicated to all concerned users of international airspace in accordance with international norms.”
“At the same time, the Russian fighters scrambled to identify the intruder did not use on-board weapons or come into contact with the UAV,” the Russian diplomat went on to say.
“The unacceptable actions of the United States military in the close proximity to our borders are cause for concern. We are well aware of the missions such reconnaissance and strike drones are used for.”
The video excerpt released by the Pentagon does not show what happened before or after the fuel-dumping incident.
The MQ-9 Reaper is a long-endurance drone that can fly for up to 27 hours at a time and is equipped with a range of sophisticated sensors and weapons systems.