A Russian fighter jet on Tuesday dumped gasoline on an American drone over the Black Sea then collided with it, inflicting the drone to crash, the US army mentioned.
US European Command mentioned two Russian Su-27 fighters intercepted the unmanned MQ-9 Reaper over worldwide waters and one clipped its propeller.
“A number of occasions earlier than the collision, the Su-27s dumped gasoline on and flew in entrance of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional method,” it mentioned.
The assertion confirmed an earlier report by AFP of an incident involving a US-made drone.
NATO diplomats in Brussels confirmed the incident, however mentioned they didn’t anticipate it to right away escalate into an additional confrontation.
A Western army supply, talking to AFP on situation of anonymity, mentioned that diplomatic channels between Russia and the US could be activated.
“To my thoughts, diplomatic channels will mitigate this,” the supply mentioned.
The USA makes use of MQ-9 Reapers for each surveillance and strikes, and has lengthy operated over the Black Sea keeping track of Russian naval forces.
The scenario within the area has turn into solely turn into extra tense previously 12 months since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Western-backed Ukraine.
“Our MQ-9 plane was conducting routine operations in worldwide airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian plane, leading to a crash and full lack of the MQ-9,” mentioned US Air Pressure Common James Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa.
“The truth is, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians almost brought on each plane to crash.”
“US and allied plane will proceed to function in worldwide airspace and we name on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely,” he added.
A number of US Reapers have been misplaced lately, together with to hostile hearth.
One was shot down in 2019 over Yemen with a surface-to-air missile fired by Huthi rebels, the US Central Command mentioned on the time.
In response to media reviews, a US MQ-9 crashed in Libya in 2022, whereas one other went down throughout a coaching train in Romania earlier in the identical 12 months.
Reapers might be armed with Hellfire missiles in addition to laser-guided bombs and might fly for greater than 1,100 miles at altitudes of as much as 15,000 metres (50,000 ft), in response to the US Air Pressure.
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