A Russian jet collided with a drone operated by the United States over the Black Sea. The incident unfolded just after 7 a.m. CET Tuesday, Mar 14.
According to United States European Command, two Su-27 aircraft conducted an “unsafe and unprofessional intercept” with a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper. EUCOM said the Russian aircraft damaged the Reaper’s propeller, which is located on the rear of the aircraft.
According to EUCOM, the Reaper was flying an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission in international air space when it was intercepted and hit by the Russian aircraft. EUCOM said U.S. forces had to down the drone in international waters.
Before the collision, the Su-27s reportedly dumped fuel on the Reaper and were flying in what the Air Force called “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional behavior.”
The EUCOM went further in its rebuke of the Russian pilots, saying they demonstrated “a lack of competence” which could have resulted in the loss of both the Reaper and the Russian aircraft.
EUCOM said Tuesday’s interaction with the jets follows a pattern by Russian pilots while interacting with U.S. and Allied aircraft in international airspace. This was the first time, however, Russian and U.S. aircraft collided over the Black Sea since the start of the war in Ukraine. It marks what could be a potentially dangerous escalation. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan briefed President Joe Biden on the incident.
Reapers are used primarily for intelligence-collection according to the USAF. Reapers can fly at an altitude of 50,000 feet and are equipped with an array of sensors. With an extended flight time, Reapers make ideal choices for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
Reapers can be equipped with weapons, as well. They can carry different combinations of Hellfire missiles, as well as guided and unguided bombs.