A Russian fighter jet forced a US Air Force drone to descend over the Black Sea on Tuesday after damaging the propeller of the MQ-9 Reaper, according to the US Army.
The Reaper drone and two Russian SU-27 Flanker jets were flying over international waters of the Black Sea when one of the Russian aircraft intentionally flew in front of the drone and repeatedly dumped fuel on it, a statement from the US Army European Command said. .
The Russian fighter then struck the drone’s propeller, prompting US forces to shoot down the MQ-9 drone in international waters. Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, added Tuesday that the Russian plane flew “in the vicinity” of the drone for 30 to 40 minutes before crashing just after 7 a.m. Central European time.
“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,” said Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of the US Air Force in Europe and Africa, said in the statement.
“In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians almost caused both planes to crash,” he added.