The US Air Force has launched video mentioned to indicate a Russian jet intercepting an American drone and dumping gas on it over the Black Sea.
It mentioned two Russian Su-27 jets flew near the MQ-9 Reaper earlier than one hit its propeller and compelled distant operators to crash it within the ocean.
Tuesday’s incident has proven the growing danger of direct confrontation between the superpowers as combating continues in close by Ukraine.
The jet’s manoeuvre was in all probability an try to “wash the fuel into the drone’s engine and therefore take it out”, mentioned retired air vice-marshal Sean Bell.
“As he pulls the aircraft up, he hasn’t got the aerodynamics because he’s isn’t flying very fast… [the plane] gets very close to the body of the drone and almost certainly just clips the propeller,” he informed Sky News.
Mr Bell referred to as the pilot “incompetent” however mentioned the collision was doubtless an accident as a result of it additionally put the Russian airplane in peril.
The MQ-9 Reaper – which has a 20-metre (66ft) wingspan and value about $32m (£26m) – is usually used for surveillance however will also be armed.
American officers have accused the Russian pilots of flying in a “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner”.
Moscow has denied the jets behaved dangerously and mentioned they did not come into contact with the drone, claiming it crashed as a consequence of “sharp manoeuvring”.
It mentioned the Reaper was flying in direction of the Russian border with its transponders – wi-fi communication gadgets – turned off.
Defence minister Sergei Shoigu accused the US of ignoring flight restrictions imposed by Russia because of the Ukraine conflict.
America has insisted the drone was in worldwide airspace and properly away from the battle zone.
The seriousness of the incident has prompted the primary calls since October between the international locations’ defence secretaries and high commanders.
Russian has mentioned it would attempt to recuperate the stays of the drone however no components seem to have been recovered to this point, a US official, talking anonymously, informed Reuters.
Washington mentioned the plane got here down in water about 1,200 to 1,500m deep and that measures had been taken to make sure no delicate data could possibly be gathered.
There are not any American ships within the area so its personal restoration makes an attempt are unlikely, in response to US officers.
A day after the incident, UK and German fighter jets have been scrambled to intercept a Russian plane which did not talk with Estonian air site visitors management.
The Ministry of Defence described it as a “routine” NATO mission.