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News] Russian jet harasses and then collides with U.S. Reaper drone over Black Sea


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  • A Russian fighter jet harassed and then collided with a U.S. drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday, forcing the U.S. to bring the MQ-9 Reaper drone down in international waters, the U.S. EuropeanCommand said.

    “Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash.”

  • Two Russian Su-27 fighter jets tracked the U.S. surveillance drone as it flew in international airspace over the Black Sea, which borders Turkey, Ukraine and Russia, among other countries. Prior to the collision, the jets “dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner,” according to a statement from the U.S. European Command.

  • 230314-MQ-9-Reaper-ew-108p-6c375e.jpg

  • At about 7 a.m., one of the jets struck the drone’s propeller, forcing the U.S. to bring it down.

    Two U.S. defense officials said the Russian jet that collided with the drone did not crash, but instead landed in Crimea.

    The officials said this is the first time they’re aware that a Russian jet has dropped fuel on a U.S. aircraft during an intercept.


    Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the U.S. believes that the collision likely caused some damage to the Russian plane.

    The U.S. has wiped out the drone’s software and is considering its salvage options for the wreckage, but the Russians can reach whatever remains of the drone faster than a U.S. ship, said the officials. The U.S. would need to send a ship through the Bosphorus Strait from the Mediterranean into the Black Sea, while the Russians have ships in the Black Sea. 

    The Turks have resisted permission for U.S. and other warships to transit the strait in recent months, said the officials

  • In a statement, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that Russia had detected the drone flying over the Black Sea “near the Crimean Peninsula in the direction of the state border of the Russian Federation” and scrambled jets to identify the intruder.

    The ministry said the two Russian planes did not use weapons, “did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle, and returned safely to their home airfield.”


    The ministry said that the drone was flying with its transponders off, “violating the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation, communicated to all users of international airspace, and published in accordance with international standards.” Russia refers to its invasion and occupation of Ukraine as a “special military operation.”


    According to the defense officials, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley plans to call hisRussian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, about the incident but they have not yet connected. 

    'Complete ineptitude'
    One official said the Russian pilot showed “complete ineptitude” and that it was shocking to see such poor flying by a military pilot in an operation environment.


    The U.S. is summoning Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov to the State Department over the incident, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters Tuesday, to convey the “strong objections” of the U.S. to this “unsafe unprofessional intercept.” The meeting is expected to take place this afternoon







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