Russian Jet Forces Down US Drone Into Black Sea

The Guardian reports:

A Russian fighter has collided with a US Reaper drone, forcing it down into the Black Sea, in what US forces called an an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept.

A US European Command statement said the collision happened just after 7am on Tuesday morning, when two Russian Su-27 fighter jets flew up to the MQ-9 Reaper drone over international waters west of Crimea. The statement said the Russian pilots sought to disrupt the US aircraft before the collision.

“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,” the US statement said. “This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional.”

CBS News reports:

“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 General James 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,” Hecker said.

Russian intercepts in the area are common, but this one “is noteworthy because of how unsafe and unprofessional it was, indeed reckless that it was,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told journalists.

The New York Times reports:

John F. Kirby, a National Security Council spokesman, said President Biden was briefed about the incident. There was no immediate comment from the Russian ministry of defense. Russia’s state news agency, Tass, referred to reports of the incident on its website.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, which has heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, the Russian Navy has controlled the Black Sea, effectively blockading access to Ukrainian vessels.

Ukraine has, however, been able to export its grain across the Black Sea under a deal signed last July between the two warring countries.