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Thu, May 04, 2023

USAF MQ-9 Reaper Damaged Over Syria

U.S. Citizens Deceived

An unnamed U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity set forth that on 27 November 2022, a Russian surface-to-air missile passed and detonated within forty-feet of a USAF MQ-9 Reaper operating over Syria. The unmanned drone, though damaged significantly during the encounter, returned to base and landed safely.

While Biden administration officials conceded at the time that a Russian SA-22 Pantsir surface-to-air missile had been launched against an Air Force MQ-9, U.S. citizens were denied knowledge of the skirmish’s ramifications.

The damage incurred by the sophisticated, $28-million, General Atomics-built drone was likely attributable to shrapnel and the shockwave resultant of the Russian missile’s detonation. The incident remains the singular publicly-known instance of a Russian surface-to-air missile being fired at a U.S. aircraft over Syria.

The November incident reportedly compelled U.S. military officials to contact Moscow via a deconfliction line maintained by the two nations. To preclude run-ins between their aircraft, the U.S. and Russia have established deconfliction protocols. Nevertheless, U.S. Air Forces Central alleges Russian combat pilots have indulged in aggressive inflight behaviors on upwards of eighty instances since 01 March 2023—including more than two-dozen armed overflights of U.S. troops.

Russian aircraft have also come within five-hundred-feet of American planes during the same period—actions U.S. officials categorize as dangerous and posit may be evince Moscow’s desire to “engender an international incident.”

In a more widely-known March 2023 incident, a U.S. MQ-9 operating over the Black Sea was struck by a Russian Su-27 fighter jet which, according to U.S. officials, impacted the drone’s aft-mounted propeller during the last of a series of antagonistic fly-by maneuvers. The stricken MQ-9 was purposefully crashed by its operators and sank, ostensibly, in the Black Sea.

Speaking to the subject of intensifying Russian belligerence in and over Syria, Pentagon press secretary USAF Brigadier General Patrick S. Ryder remarked on 27 April: “We’re not seeking to get into a conflict with Russia, nor are we looking to divert attention from why it is that we’re there.”

Approximately nine-hundred U.S. troops are currently stationed in eastern Syria for purpose of assisting Syrian forces in the ongoing fight against ISIS remnants. Contrariwise, Russian forces are operating in Syria under orders to back the regime of Bashar Al-Assad against rebel groups.

In addition to Russian in-air saber-rattling, U.S. forces in Syria are contending with armed and aggressive resistance put up by Iranian-backed militants. On 23 March 2023, a rocket attack launched by Islamic extremists claimed the life of an American contractor. The following day, a pair of USAF F-15 Strike Eagles made a counter attack on bases linked to the brutal Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

U.S. Air Forces Central conducts combat air patrols in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the ongoing anti-ISIS campaign. To fulfill its requirements for fighter aircraft to complement its F-16s and F-15Es, the command recently received a contingent of A-10 Thunderbolt IIs.



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