Russian Jet Hits U.S. Drone

( – U.S. officials are calling Russian military actions dangerous and irresponsible after an unmanned U.S. drone was downed over the Black Sea when a Russian fighter jet collided with it.

The U.S. drone, a MQ-9 Reaper, was flying over the Black Sea on March 14th when a Russian Su-27 fighter jet hit the drone. Two of the same Russian jets were flying in tandem over the Black Sea near the drone.

All three aircraft were in international airspace over international waters.

A statement from the U.S. European Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) said the incident occurred at about 7 am local time. The Russian jet struck the drone’s propeller, damaging it and forcing it to ditch in the Black Sea.

The statement said the Russian jets were performing aggressive maneuvers before the incident. Both Su-27’s dumped fuel on the drone, and then flew in front of it “in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner,” the statement said.

This behavior also demonstrates a lack of competence, according to the statement.

The U.S. State Department has called on the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. to meet with U.S. officials who want to express “strong objections.”

The Russian jet that collided with the drone then navigated to Crimea and landed. It is not known whether the jet took any damage.

U.S. National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, told reporters that Russian intercepts of U.S. aircraft over the Black Sea are not uncommon. There have been several in recent weeks, he said.

But this incident is unique, according to Kirby, in how aggressive and reckless it was, ending with the crash of the U.S. craft.

USAFE-AFAFRICA’s General James B. Hecmer said the U.S. and its allies will continue to operate together in international airspace. The MQ-9 drone was on a routine mission and posed no threat to anyone, he said.

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