US drone: Russian jets shoot down MQ-9 Reaper over Black Sea

(CNN) A Russian fighter jet Forcefully shot down a US Air Force drone A US MQ-9 Reaper drone damaged its propeller over the Black Sea on Tuesday, according to the US military.

A Reaper drone and two Russian Su-27s were flying in international waters over the Black Sea on Tuesday when a Russian jet deliberately flew ahead and repeatedly dumped fuel on the unmanned drone, a statement from the US European Command said.

The aircraft then struck the drone’s propeller, prompting US forces to bring the MQ-9 drone down in international waters. Pentagon spokesman Brig. General Patrick Ryder said on Tuesday that the Russian plane flew “in close proximity” to the drone for 30 to 40 minutes before it crashed shortly after 7 a.m. CET.

“While our MQ-9 aircraft were conducting routine operations in international airspace, the MQ-9 was intercepted and attacked by a Russian aircraft, causing the MQ-9 to crash and become a total loss,” Air Force Gen. James P. Hecker, commander of US Air Force Europe and Air Force Africa, said in the statement. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional action by the Russians almost caused both planes to crash.”

The incident is the first time since Russia that Russian and US military aircraft have made direct physical contact Invaded Ukraine A year ago, and likely to escalate tensions between the two countries, the US called Russia’s actions “irresponsible, environmentally unfriendly and unprofessional”.

Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said Russia did not want a “conflict” between his country and the US after being summoned to the State Department following the drone downing.

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“We want not to create a situation where the Russian Federation and the United States face unexpected conflicts or unexpected incidents,” Antonov said.

‘Unsafe, unprofessional and irresponsible’

Antonov, who was inside the State Department for more than half an hour, told Assistant Secretary Karen Danfried that he had expressed U.S. concerns about the incident and “exchanged our views on this issue because we have some differences.”

“It seems to me that this is a constructive dialogue on this issue. I have heard her views and I hope she understands what I mentioned,” Antonov said in response to a question from CNN.

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov speaks to reporters after meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Karen Danfried at the U.S. State Department office in Washington, March 14, 2023.

He added that “Russia has informed about this location which has been identified as a zone of special military operation”.

“We’ve been warned not to penetrate, not to penetrate,” he said, asking how the United States would react if a Russian drone came close to New York or San Francisco.

Antonov reiterated the Russian Defense Ministry’s denial of the incident. In a statement on Tuesday they denied that the Russian jet had come into contact with the drone, saying that fighter jets “scrambled to identify the intruder” after spotting the intruder in the Black Sea and that the drone “went into an unguided aircraft”. Height loss.”

“The drone flew with its transponders, exceeding the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for special military operations, communicating with all users in international airspace and issued in accordance with international standards,” the ministry said.

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President Joe Biden National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan was briefed on the incident Tuesday morning, National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby said. Ryder said Defense Department officials “have not specifically spoken to Russian officials” about the incident.

Price said separately that the US was “engaging at a high level with our allies and partners” regarding the incident. He said the United States was “not in a position to talk about what the Russians wanted to do” with the maneuvers, but ultimately the intent was less than “what actually happened.”

In this Feb. 21 photo, a U.S. Air Force 119th Wing MQ-9 Reaper flies over the airfield during Cobb North 23 at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam.

Kirby said the interception of U.S. aircraft in the Black Sea by Russian aircraft was “unusual” and said there had been other interceptions in recent weeks.

But he said Tuesday’s episode was unique in how “unsafe, unprofessional and reckless” Russian actions were.

The U.S. Department of Defense is currently declassifying images from the incident, Ryder said Tuesday. He also said that Russia did not recover the downed drone.

Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” on Tuesday, Kirby said, “The United States has taken steps to protect our stock with respect to that particular drone.”

“We don’t want to see anyone get their hands on it beyond us,” Kirby said. He added that the U.S. rejects Russian denials of responsibility, adding that “everything the Russians say about what the Russians are doing in and around Ukraine should be taken with a grain of salt.”

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Russian and American aircraft operated during the Black Sea Ukraine warBut this is the first known such interaction, a fatal escalation at a crucial time in the fight.

The US has been operating Reaper drones in the Black Sea since before the start of the war, and has been using spy drones to monitor the area. According to the Air Force, Reaper drones can fly at altitudes of 50,000 feet and have the sensitivity and capabilities to gather intelligence and conduct long-range surveillance, making them ideal platforms for monitoring movements on the battlefield and in the Black Sea. .

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Kevin Lipdock, Katarina Krebs and Radina Kikova contributed reporting.

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