A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone was forced down over the Black Sea by a Russian fighter jet that caused damage to the aircraft’s propeller.
According to an official, the Russian fighter jet deliberately flew in front of the drone — which was operating alongside two SU-27 Flanker jets over international waters of the Black Sea — and dumped fuel in the path of the drone. The Russian fighter jets then caused damage to the drone’s propeller.
— Defense News (@defense_news) March 14, 2023
This incident is the first time since the Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine that American and Russian military aircrafts have interacted. The US Air Force referred to Russia’s actions as “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional.” It’s expected that this incident will exacerbate existing tensions between the two superpowers.
According to John Kirby, the National Security Council communications coordinator, national security adviser Jake Sullivan briefed President Joe Biden on Tuesday morning.
US Air Force commander, US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, General James B. Hecker, said the following in the statement:
“At approximately 7:03 AM (CET), one of the Russian Su-27 aircraft struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 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.”
The US has been monitoring international waters in the Black Sea using Reaper drones since well before the Russian-Ukrainian war began over a year ago. According to the Air Force, Reaper drones are capable of reaching altitudes of approximately 50,000 feet. Reapers also have the ability to perform reconnaissance and gather intelligence through camera and sensors. Their altitude capabilities, sensors, and range make them an outstanding craft with which to operate.