A Russian plane collided with an American unmanned plane in international airspace over the Black Sea, causing the latter to crash.
Two Su-27 planes had tried to intercept the American drone – named MQ-9 – by throwing fuel in front of it several times before the collision.
It was an attempt to damage the plane.
Around 7:03 a.m. CET (6:03 a.m. GMT) a Russian the aircraft struck the propeller of the MQ-9 drone, causing US forces to shoot down the unmanned aircraft.
A statement from the United States’ European Command described the Russian maneuvers as reckless, unprofessional and damaging to the environment.
The drone was performing a routine flight in accordance with international laws to strengthen Europe’s collective defense and security, he said.
It is the latest in a series of dangerous Russian flights, the statement said, which could lead to an “unintended escalation”.
WE Air Force General James Hecker described the incident as a “dangerous and unprofessional act by the Russians” which led to the complete loss of one MQ-9.
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White House spokesman John Kirby added that while there were other interceptions, this one is particularly noteworthy because it was “dangerous and unprofessional”.
MQ-9 drone versus Su-27 fighter jet
The MQ-9 Reaper is a remotely piloted drone used for surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as attack missions.
While the Su-27 fighter jet is a Soviet-era invention originally built in 1982 to counter powerful American aircraft technology.
The former can be equipped with missiles, but the one that crashed Tuesday was an intelligence aircraft, according to the US European Command.
The latter is armed with a 30mm cannon and is capable of firing a range of missiles, rockets and bombs.
He said it was “unique” in that it led to the drowning of an American plane.
The United States will continue to fly and operate over the Black Sea, according to Mr Kirby, who said he did not need to check with the Russians when he did, because it is over international waters.
Unintentional escalation in airspace near Ukraine
The downing of a US drone after a ‘dangerous and unprofessional’ interception by Russian planes over the Black Sea highlights the risk of inadvertent escalation in the increasingly congested airspace near Ukraine .
The key will be how the United States chooses to react to what appears to have been an accidental rather than a deliberate crash.
Yet the US military said Russian Su-27 fighter jets dumped fuel on the MQ-9 Reaper drone “several times” and flew past it “in a reckless, environmentally friendly and unprofessional manner”.
One of the jets then collided with the drone’s propeller, forcing the unmanned aircraft to crash into the sea.
Last year, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace revealed that a missile had been dropped by a Russian plane near an unarmed RAF plane during a routine patrol over the black Sea.
He described the September 29 incident as a “potentially dangerous engagement”, but said it was not considered a “deliberate escalation”.
There was no immediate reaction from Moscow, which has repeatedly expressed concern about US intelligence flights near the Crimean peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.