A Russian Su-27 fighter jet crashed into the propeller of an US MQ-9 Reaper drone on March 14, causing the US Air Force to sink the UAV in the Black Sea’s international waters, according to a report from EUCOM, the United States European Command. The Russian Su-27 was also nearly lost as a result of the incident, said US Air Force General James B. Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa.
According to the official press release issued by EUCOM, “two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept with a U.S. Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance unmanned MQ-9 aircraft.”
“Two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept with a U.S. Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance unmanned MQ-9 aircraft that was operating within international airspace over the Black Sea today.
At approximately 7:03 AM (CET), one of the Russian Su-27 aircraft struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters. Several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner. This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional.
“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,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash.”
“U.S. and Allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace and we call on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely,” Hecker added.
This incident follows a pattern of dangerous actions by Russian pilots while interacting with U.S. and Allied aircraft over international airspace, including over the Black Sea. These aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation.”
This is not the first such incident recorded over the Black Sea. British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had previously claimed that in late September 2022, a Russian Su-27 fighter fired a missile near a British RC-135W Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft patrolling in international airspace over the Black Sea. The Russian side reported a technical malfunction of its fighter jet, claiming the missile was fired by mistake.