On July 23, a Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet buzzed a U.S Air Force MQ-9 Reaper that was on an anti-ISIS mission over Syria, before dropping flares and damaging one of the Reaper's propellors. Happily, the U.S. drone made it back to base.
“The Russian fighter’s blatant disregard for flight safety detracts from our mission to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS,” said the commander of Air Force Central Command, Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich.
It's not the first time Russian military jets have gone after U.S. drones. In fact, such encounters are becoming quite common.
In March, a Russian Su-27 fighter forced a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper to crash into the Black Sea.
On July 5, a trio of Russian fighter jets dropped parachute flares in front of U.S. drones operating in Syria (they took evasive action), and, the very next day, another Russian figher harrassed an American drone with the flare trick.
The increase in Russia's aggressive actions toward U.S. drones has prompted analysts to examine potential reasons for the "drone harassment," according to Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Both Russian and American military forces are deployed in Syria—not surprisingly on opposite sides. The U.S. is there as part of its campaign to defeat ISIS, while the Russians are in the country because they support the Assad regime.