In a video released today, a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper drone is seen as it is intercepted over Syria by a Russian Air Force fighter, presumably a Sukhoi Su-30SM.
As we have alluded to before, the airspace over the shores of the eastern Mediterranean Sea is a very busy place: the American-led Operation Inherent Resolve continues with its allied coalition, which consists of Canada, Australia, Denmark, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the UAE.
Now that the Russian Federation has joined the party, the geopolitical situation in Syria has become increasingly complicated and there are serious concerns about all of those warplanes in such close proximity to each other–especially those of the Russian Air Force and United States.
Today, in fact, the Russian Ministry of Defense and United States Department of Defense have co-signed a Memorandum of Mutual Understanding, which will help “regulate” flight operations for RPAs, like the MQ-9 above, and manned warplanes–hopefully decreasing the likelihood of an incident where tension between the two sides boil over into an armed encounter.
Once the agreement goes into effect, there will be round-the-clock communication channels open between Russian and American Command and Control establishments, and the rules will also apply to the other air forces conducting anti-ISIS operations in Syria and Iraq.
We’ve got more to come on this and related topics, so stay tuned!