The Pentagon released the MQ-9 video showing the Su-27 Flanker making one pass dumping fuel and another pass leading to the collision.
As already reported on Mar. 14, 2023, a Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet and a US MQ-9 Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft were involved in an inflight collision over the Black Sea. The mid-air collision damaged the American unmanned aircraft and the U.S. Air Force was forced to ditch in international waters.
“At approximately 7:03 AM (CET), one of the Russian Su-27 aircraft struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters. Several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner. This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional,” said the U.S. European Command in a public statement.
Eventually, the video of the intercept was released by the U.S. DoD.
It’s just a 42-second clip, that basically shows a Su-27 approaching the MQ-9 from astern and beginning to dump fuel. At about 00:09 mark, the Flanker flies over the MQ-9 still dumping fuel. The live video transmission is disrupted but the MQ-9 later appears to remain undamaged. Later you can see a Russian Su-27 on a second approach towards the MQ-9. Again, the Flanker dumps fuel but the pass is closer and at 00:29 the camera feed is lost as the two aircraft seem to collide. When the feed is restored, we can get a view at the propellers of the Reaper and one appears to be bent.
In brief, the video confirms the accounts provided by the U.S. officials after the incident, who had claimed the Su-27s to have carried out the intercept in “unprofessional manner”. It also seems to suggest that the collision did not occur intentionally but it was most probably caused by the Russian pilot who misjudged the maneuver and eventually hit the Reaper (putting also the Flanker at serious risk).
As a side note, this video does not provide enough details to allow us to confirm that another short clip, posted yesterday by the popular pro-Russian Fighterbomber account on Telegram, and showing a Flanker doing a close flyby of a U.S. Air Force MQ-9, was really taken on the day of the incident; it’s worth highlighting here that there’s some people who said it was filmed during another close encounter over the Black Sea or elsewhere, while there are also people who suggest it may be fake – i.e. created using CGI or a flight simulator, although the experts consensus is that the video is genuine.