A Russian fighter jet has collided with a US ‘Reaper’ drone causing it to crash into the Black Sea. Two Russian Su-27 warplanes intercepted the US Air Force spy drone before one clipped the aircraft’s propeller just after 7 am, bringing it down in international waters.

According to Metro, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident, while NATO’s top commander updated allies. It is thought to be the first time since the height of the Cold War that a US aircraft was brought down by a Russian fighter jet.

Mr. Kirby said US State Department officials would be speaking directly with Russian counterparts and ‘expressing our concerns over this unsafe and unprofessional intercept’.


Several times before the collision, the fighter jets dumped fuel on the MQ-9 drone and flew in front of it in ‘a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner’, the US European Command said in a statement.

‘This incident follows a pattern of dangerous actions by Russian pilots while interacting with US and Allied aircraft over international airspace, including over the Black Sea,’ it continued. ‘These aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation.’

US Air Force General James Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, said: ‘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.

‘In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash. ‘US and Allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace and we call on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely.’

Russia’s defence ministry denied its jets had come into contact with the US drone, claiming instead that it crashed due to ‘sharp maneuvering’.

It added: ‘The Russian fighters did not use their on-board weapons, did not come into contact with the UAV, and returned safely to their home airfield.’

Moscow has repeatedly voiced concern about US intelligence flights close to the Crimean Peninsula, which it illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

The Kremlin has charged that by providing weapons to Ukraine and sharing intelligence information with Kyiv, the US and its allies have effectively become engaged in the conflict.

While the United States is not sailing warships in the Black Sea, it has routinely been flying surveillance aircraft in and around the area. Mr. Kirby insisted the clash would not deter the US from continuing missions in the area.

‘If the message is that they want to deter or dissuade us from flying, and operating in international airspace, over the Black Sea, then that message will fail,’ he added.

‘That is not going to happen. We’re going to continue to fly and operate in international airspace over international waters. The Black Sea belongs to no one nation.’

The Black Sea lies between Europe and Asia and is bordered by Russia and Ukraine among other countries.

General David Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, said that this type of collision is his greatest concern, both in that area of Europe as well as in the Pacific.


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