Russian Su-35 employs parachute flares in the US MQ-9 flight path
New provocative maneuvers have been performed by Russian Su-35 pilots against an American drone. This was officially announced by the US Air Force after publishing a video of what happened on June 5 in the sky over Syria.
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The video shows the actions of three fighters from the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS). They fly near the MQ-9 Reaper of the US Air Force inventory, maneuver dangerously on either side of the US drone, as well as cross the path of The Reaper.
One of the most dangerous movements and maneuvers that the US protests is the parachute flares fired in the path of the drone. There is another dangerous movement – one of the three Su-35s stood in front of the American drone and “activated” the afterburner. In doing so, the pilot attempted to prevent the MQ-9 operator from safely flying the drone.
What US official said
US Colonel Grynkewich highlighted, “These incidents are another alarming example of the unsafe and unprofessional conduct of Russian air forces in Syria. This jeopardizes the safety of both US and Russian forces.” He further urged, “We appeal to the Russian forces in Syria to stop this risky behavior. They need to adhere to the professionalism expected of an air force, allowing us to refocus on our primary goal – the enduring defeat of ISIS.”
Details surrounding the specific mission undertaken by the MQ-9 drones against ISIS targets in Syria were not disclosed by the Air Force. The exact location of these incidents, involving the MQ-9 drones and the Russian fighter jets over Syria, remains under wraps. This leaves the specifics of the encounters somewhat shrouded in mystery.
Parachute flares are pyrotechnic devices that are used to create a bright light in the sky. They are typically used in aviation to signal the location of an aircraft or to illuminate a specific area on the ground.
When a parachute flare is deployed, it is ejected from the aircraft and then a small parachute deploys to slow its descent. As the flare descends, it burns brightly, creating a visible light source that can be seen from a distance.
In aviation, parachute flares are often used to signal distress or to mark the location of an aircraft that has gone down. They can also be used to illuminate a landing zone or to provide visual guidance for pilots during night operations.
A US Air Force drone was shot down by a Russian Su-27 in March, ending up in the Black Sea. Rumors are now circulating that the Russian military has retrieved the drone, which is worth around 56 million USD. This information, however, is not yet independently verified.
The claim suggests that the US military did not anticipate the Russian Air Force challenging the drone over disputed territory in Crimea. If the drone has been salvaged, it provides valuable insights into US military technology.
Yuriy Knutov, the director of the Air Defense Forces Museum, stated that Russian experts would likely study the drone’s communication systems and missile launch protocols. The information collected from the drone can reveal weaknesses in the Russian defense system.
But if the drone recovery is true, it allows Russia to identify and adjust its compromised systems, resetting the security balance. This could be a significant issue for US defense.
The incident could lead to the US restricting drone flights near Crimea, and reconsidering the supply of Abrams tanks to Ukraine, due to the sensitive technology they contain.
The MQ-9 Reaper is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed primarily for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. It is also capable of carrying out precision strikes on ground targets using its armament of Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs.
The Reaper has a wingspan of 66 feet and a length of 36 feet and can reach a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet and a top speed of 300 knots.
Significant incidents in Syria
Since the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, there have been several incidents between Russian and US military aircraft in Syrian airspace. These incidents have often involved Russian fighter jets intercepting US aircraft or US aircraft attempting to deter Russian aircraft from entering a designated area.
One notable incident occurred in June 2017, when a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 fighter jet. The US claimed that the Syrian jet had dropped bombs near the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, while the Syrian government claimed that the jet was attacking ISIS militants. Russia, which supports the Syrian government, condemned the US action as a violation of Syrian sovereignty.
In another incident in February 2018, a US MQ-9 Reaper drone was reportedly shot down by a Russian-made air defense system operated by pro-Syrian government forces. The US claimed that the drone was conducting a routine surveillance mission in support of coalition forces fighting ISIS, while the Syrian government claimed that the drone was attacking its forces. The incident highlighted the complex and volatile nature of the conflict in Syria, as well as the risk of direct military confrontation between the US and Russia.
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