‘Ruthless’ Russian fighter jet downs US Air Force drone flying over Black Sea
Russian fighter jets knocked down a US drone over international waters in the Black Sea on Tuesday, according to US officials.
US Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker of the branch’s European command called A pair of Russian Sukhoi Su-27 planes performed a “reckless, polluting and unprofessional” series of maneuvers that dumped fuel and damaged the propeller of an MQ-9 drone, forcing the US to crash the plane bring.
“In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional action by the Russians nearly caused both planes to crash,” he added.
The European command warned that “these aggressive actions by the Russian crew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculations and unintended escalations.” US European Command said in a statement that one of the Russian fighters “hit the MQ-9’s propeller, resulting in US forces having to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters.”
Prior to the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel several times and flew ahead of the MQ-9, the statement from Stuttgart said.
The UAV flew “far from any territory over Ukraine” while conducting an unspecified intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission, according to the US Department of Defense called on Tuesday.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the US drone was flying near its borders and had entered the area declared off-limits by Russia, prompting the military to intercept fighters in a bid to intercept them. “As a result of a sharp maneuver, the US drone went into an uncontrollable flight with a loss of altitude” and crashed into the water, it said.
Planes from both countries have operated over the Black Sea, which has coasts in Russia and Ukraine.
State Department spokesman Ned Price called it a “blatant violation of international law” and said the US had summoned the Russian ambassador to a protest. US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy made similar statements in Moscow.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the incident will not deter the US from continuing its missions in the region.
“If the message is that they prevent or want to prevent us from flying over the Black Sea and operating in international airspace, then that message will fail,” he said.
“We will continue to fly and operate in international airspace over international waters,” he said. “The Black Sea does not belong to any nation.”
The Russian Defense Ministry added that its fighters had not come into contact with the drone. “The Russian fighters did not use their onboard weapons, did not come into contact with the UAV and returned safely to their home base,” it said.
In fact, Russian aircraft were damaged in the encounter, US Brigadier General Patrick Ryder claimed during a press conference. He added that the downed US drone was not captured by Russia, but declined to give further details on whether or how the UAV could be recovered.
Interactions with Russian aircraft are common in operations in the region, but Mr. Kirby told reporters in Washington that this incident “is notable because it was unsafe and unprofessional, yes, reckless that it was”.
Drones have become a key element of the war in Ukraine on both sides. The US has provided Ukraine with more than 700 small Switchblade drones as part of its various security assistance packages. The vehicles are unarmed but can be carried in backpacks and used to impact targets, making them a key weapon for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The Wall Street Journal reports.
So far, the US has refused to provide Ukraine with long-range armed US drones like the Reaper or Gray Eagle over concerns that Russia could access the technology on board if one were shot down. according to DefenseNews.
All told, the US has provided about $34 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014, when Russia first invaded the country, according to the Congressional Research Service.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/russia-us-drone-black-sea-b2300783.html ‘Ruthless’ Russian fighter jet downs US Air Force drone flying over Black Sea