A Russian fighter jet brought down a US drone, causing it to crash into the Black Sea, the American military said on Tuesday.
It says the drone was on a routine mission in international airspace when two Russian jets tried to intercept it. The US European Command said the crash was the result of an “unprofessional act by the Russians”.
It added that one of the Russian Su-27 aircraft struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing US forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters.
The incident marks the first time Russian and US military aircraft have come into direct contact since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine just over a year ago, and is likely to increase tensions between the two nations, CNN notes.
Russian jets dumped fuel before the collision with US drone
Several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 “in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner. This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional,” the US European Command stressed.
“These aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation.”
The US European Command said in the statement that “the incident follows a pattern of dangerous actions by Russian pilots while interacting with U.S. and Allied aircraft over international airspace, including over the Black Sea.”
There is no word on the incident from Russia.
President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident by national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday morning, according to National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby.
Kirby said it was “not uncommon” for Russian aircraft to intercept US aircraft over the Black Sea, and said there had been other intercepts in recent weeks.
But he said the episode Tuesday was unique in how “unsafe, unprofessional and reckless” the Russian actions were.
MQ-9 Reaper drones are large unmanned aircraft designed for high-altitude surveillance.