US drones: Russian jet shoots down MQ-9 ‘Reaper’ over Black Sea


a russian fighter Forcibly shoot down a US Air Force drone The U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone flew over the Black Sea on Tuesday after damaging the propeller of the U.S. military, 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 Dumped fuel to the drone multiple times.

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. General Patrick Ryder added on Tuesday that the Russian plane was flying “in the vicinity” of the drone for 30 to 40 minutes before colliding just after 7 a.m. Central European Time.

“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,” Air Force Gen. 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 launch an invasion of Ukraine Just over a year ago, it threatened to heighten tensions between the two countries, with the US calling Russia’s actions “reckless, unenvironmental and unprofessional”.

Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, arrived at the State Department on Tuesday afternoon, but did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Antonov is expected to meet with Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried, a senior State Department official said. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that he had been summoned to the department to “express our strong disapproval” and that Lynn Tracy, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, “has sent a strong message to the Russian foreign ministry.”

president biden National Security Advisor Jack Sullivan briefed the U.S. president on the incident Tuesday morning, according to National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby. Defense Department officials “have not spoken specifically to Russian authorities about this incident,” Ryder said.

Separately, Price said the United States had “engaged at a high level with our allies and partners” to inform them of the incident. He added that the U.S. was “unable to say what the Russians intended to do with the exercise,” but that the ultimate intent was less important than “what actually happened.”

In this Feb. 21 photo, a U.S. Air Force 119th Wing MQ-9 Reaper fighter jet flies over the airfield during Cope North 23 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Kirby said it was “not uncommon” for Russian aircraft to intercept U.S. aircraft over the Black Sea, adding that there had been other interceptions in recent weeks.

But what was unique about Tuesday’s incident, he said, was how “unsafe, unprofessional and reckless” Russia’s actions were.

The Russian Ministry of Defense denied any contact with the drone in a statement on Tuesday, saying fighter jets “scrambled to identify the intruder” after spotting it over the Black Sea, adding that the drone “entered a unguided flight”

“The drone, flying with its transponder turned off, violated the borders of the temporary airspace regime established for special military operations, communicated with all users of international airspace and issued in accordance with international standards,” the ministry said.

Ryder said Tuesday that the Pentagon is currently working to declassify images of the incident. He also said Russia had not recovered the downed drone.

During this time, Russian and American aircraft were flying missions over the Black Sea ukraine warbut this is the first known interaction of its kind, with a potentially dangerous escalation at a critical point in the fight.

The United States has been operating Reaper drones over the Black Sea since before the war began, using spy drones to monitor the region. Reapers can fly at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet, according to the U.S. Air Force, and they have sensors and capabilities to gather intelligence and conduct reconnaissance over extended periods of time, making them an ideal platform for tracking movements on the battlefield and in the Black Sea.

This story has been updated with more details.

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