A Russian fighter jet shot down a U.S. Air Force drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday after damaging the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper’s propeller, according to the U.S. military.
A Reaper drone and two Russian Su-27 aircraft were flying over international waters over the Black Sea on Tuesday, with one of the Russian jets deliberately flying in front of the drone and shooting multiple times, a statement from U.S. European Command said. Dumping fuel on the drone for the first time.
The plane then struck the drone’s propeller, prompting the U.S. military to land the MQ-9 drone in international waters. Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Clyde added on Tuesday that the Russian aircraft had been flying “in the vicinity” of the drone for 30 to 40 minutes before colliding just after 7 a.m. CET.
“Our MQ-9 aircraft was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft while performing routine operations in international airspace, resulting in the crash and total loss of the MQ-9,” the Air Force general said. James B. Hecker, Commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Africa, said in a statement. “Indeed, this unsafe and unprofessional behavior by the Russians almost resulted in the crash of two planes.”
The incident marked the first direct physical contact between Russian and U.S. military aircraft since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago and could heighten tensions between the two countries, with the U.S. calling Russia’s actions “reckless, environmentally unsound” and unprofessional. “
Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, said Russia did not want a “confrontation” between his country and the U.S. after he was summoned to the State Department after the drone was shot down.
“We do not want to create a situation where we can face unexpected conflicts or unexpected events between the Russian Federation and the United States,” Antonov said.
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