An American MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle has crashed into the Black Sea after being struck by a Russian Su-27 aircraft.
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The US Air Force intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle’s propeller was damaged by the Soviet-era twin-engine supermanoeuvrable fighter aircraft on 14 March.
US forces brought the drone down into the international waters of the Black Sea, according to US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Commander, US Air Force General James B Hecker.
“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,” Gen Hecker said.
“This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional.
“This incident follows a pattern of dangerous actions by Russian pilots while interacting with US 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.”
The MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft (which is also believed to have been damaged and landed), he said.
Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder said the US Air Force routinely flies aircraft throughout international airspace in coordination with applicable host nation and international laws and will continue to do so.
The Black Sea is considered international waters, however only warships from Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Turkiye, Bulgaria, and Romania bordering the sea can remain for more than three weeks under the 1936 Montreux Convention.