Russia Gives Awards To Pilots Who Downed Drone, Vows To Continue


Aljazeera is reporting that the Russian pilots involved in the downing of a U.S. Reaper surveillance drone have been given awards and suggests that means it’s open season on the aircraft operating near Ukraine. “The drone flew with its transponders off, violating the boundaries of the area of the temporary airspace usage regime established for the special military operation [and] communicated to all users of international airspace,” Russia’s defense ministry said in a statement reported in the Moscow Times, according to Aljazeera.

The publication also quoted columnist Sergei Markov, who it described as “pro-Kremlin,” as writing that the presentation of the awards was “a clear sign that Russia will keep downing” U.S. drones. The Air Force announced last week that it has resumed regular drone missions over the region after the two award-winning pilots dumped fuel on the Reaper and one clipped its propeller on March 14. The remote pilots ditched the damaged drone in the Black Sea.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. I guess maybe next time Russian pilots want to play with a drone it would be something if the drone “accidently” blew up as they go by. Sure it would cost us a 30+ million dollar drone, but I bet it would take only one to dissuade any further conflicts. Live stream the encounter for proof.

    It’s not like Russian could claim we shot down a plane, it is just that the proximity warning message the drone gave was ignored and when they got too close….boom.

  2. On an early story, I stated my theory that the Russians intended to disable the drone so that it would ditch, and could be recovered. They certainly had the ability to shoot it down, but they didn’t. At the time, the Russians blamed the drone for turning into the MIG. Now they are changing their tune, claiming responsibility, and warning they will do it again.

    This whole incident has demonstrated to Russia how the US and NATO will respond to similar actions in the future. NATO did nothing this time. I wonder how many drones Russia will take down before NATO takes action?

  3. It wouldn’t be a big deal to hang a sidewinder under one wing or have a couple of F-16s training in the area if Ivan wanted to come play again.