Russian jet collides with US drone over Black Sea
A Russian fighter jet has collided with a US drone, causing the unmanned US aircraft to crash into the Black Sea, the American military says.
It says the drone was on a routine mission in international airspace when two Russian jets tried to intercept it.
The US European Command said the crash on Tuesday was the result of an “unprofessional act by the Russians”.
US and allied forces will continue to operate in the area, it added. There is no word on the incident from Russia.
“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,” the US statement said.
Several times before the collision the Su-27 fighter jets dumped fuel on the drone in a “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner”.
MQ-9 Reaper drones are large unmanned aircraft with a 20m (66ft) wingspan designed for high-altitude surveillance.
Shashank Joshi, defence editor for the Economist magazine, said the Russians may have been trying to intimidate the drone as it was hoovering up their communications.
White House spokesman John Kirby said Russian intercepts of US aircraft were not uncommon over the Black Sea, but it was the first time that one had resulted in a crash.
Tensions have risen in the region ever since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine the US and the UK have stepped up reconnaissance and surveillance flights, though always operating in international airspace.