A Russian fighter jet collided with a US surveillance drone in international airspace over the Black Sea, forcing the US aircraft to crash, the US said.
The Su-27 fighter jet, accompanied by a second Russian jet, struck the propeller of the MQ-9 Reaper drone in what was an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept around 7 a.m. local time, the US European Command said. The two Russian warplanes flew in front of the drone and dropped fuel on it before the strike, it said.
“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and struck by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and the total loss of the MQ-9,” Air Force General James Hecker said. . “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians almost caused both planes to crash.”
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident and called the Russian move “reckless.”
“If the message is that they want to discourage us from flying by operating in international airspace over the Black Sea, then that message will fail,” Kirby said. “And we will continue to do what we must do in our own national security interests in that part of the world.”
Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Christopher Cavoli briefed NATO allies about the incident, according to an organization official.
Last week, Norwegian Colonel Eirik Guldvog said that Russian behavior in the Baltic and Black Sea regions has been “a bit more aggressive.”
“It can be a more aggressive, closer flight,” he said. “Slightly more aggressive behavior, flying like you’re preparing to launch weapons, for example, not using weapons.”
In February, the Pentagon sent fighter aircraft to counter four Russian planes that approached US airspace. The US military was on high alert following the downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon and a host of other unidentified objects over US airspace.
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