Russian Su-27 collides into U.S. unmanned aircraft over the Black Sea

March 14,2023 630
Russian Su-27 collides into U.S. unmanned aircraft over the Black Sea

Two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept with a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper, an unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, that was operating within international airspace over the Black Sea on Tuesday, the U.S. European Command reported.

At approximately 7:03 a.m. (CET), one of the Russian fighters struck the MQ-9’s propeller, making U.S. forces bring the UAV down in international waters. 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.

“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.”

“U.S. and Allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace, and we call on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely,” Hecker added.

This 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. These aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation.

White House spokesman John Kirby said President Joe Biden was briefed about the incident, according to ABC News.

While there have been other such intercepts, Kirby said, this one was noteworthy because it caused the downing of a U.S. aircraft.

“So it’s unique in that regard,” Kirby said, noting the State Department will reach out and make U.S. concerns over the drone known to Russian officials.

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