(NBC) – A Russian plane harassed and then collided with a U.S. drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday, prompting the U.S. to shoot down an MQ-9 Reaper drone in international waters, U.S. European Command said.
“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and shot down by a Russian aircraft, resulting in the crash and total loss of the MQ-9,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, Cmdr. US Air Force Europe and Air Force Africa. “In fact, this dangerous and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both planes to crash.”
Two Russian Su-27 jets were tracking a US surveillance drone flying in international airspace over the Black Sea, which borders Turkey, Ukraine and Russia, as well as other countries. Before the collision, the jets “drained fuel and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner,” the US European Command said in a statement.
At about 7 a.m., one of the jets hit the drone’s propeller, prompting the U.S. to disable it.
European Command said in a statement that the incident “demonstrates a lack of competence” on the part of the Russians “in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional” and is part of a pattern of unsafe behavior by Russian pilots when interacting with US-allied aircraft.
Hecker said: “US and allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace, and we urge the Russians to behave professionally and safely.”
The US has said it regularly flies aircraft in Europe, both in sovereign and international airspace, in accordance with international law and with the consent of host countries “to strengthen Europe’s collective defense and security” and “to support the national objectives of allies, partners and USA”. »