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 navy stated.
US European Command stated 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 stated.
The assertion confirmed an earlier report by AFP of an incident involving a US-made drone within the space.
Russian intercepts over the Black Sea have been frequent, US Nationwide Safety Council spokesman John Kirby informed journalists in Washington, however this one “is noteworthy due to how unsafe and unprofessional it was, certainly reckless that it was”.
NATO diplomats in Brussels confirmed the incident, however stated they didn’t anticipate it to right away escalate into an extra confrontation.
A Western navy supply, chatting with AFP on situation of anonymity, stated that diplomatic channels between Russia and the US may assist restrict any fall-out.
“To my thoughts, diplomatic channels will mitigate this,” the supply stated.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February final yr has led to heightened fears of a direct confrontation between Moscow and the Western NATO navy alliance, which has been arming Kyiv to assist it defend itself.
News of a missile strike in jap Poland in November final yr briefly precipitated alarm earlier than Western navy sources concluded that it was a Ukrainian air defence missile that had malfunctioned, not a Russian one.
There was no quick response from Moscow.
– ‘Unsafe and unprofessional’ –
The US makes use of MQ-9 Reapers for each surveillance and strikes, and has lengthy operated over the Black Sea maintaining a tally of Russian naval forces.
“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,” stated US Air Power Normal James Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa.
“In actual fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians practically precipitated 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.
The US assertion stated that pilots had introduced the Reaper down in worldwide waters, whereas the US Naval Institute stated it had crashed off the coast of Odessa in southeast Ukraine.
A number of US Reapers have been misplaced in recent times, together with to hostile fireplace.
One was shot down in 2019 over Yemen with a surface-to-air missile fired by Huthi rebels, the US Central Command stated on the time.
In line with 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 yr.
Reapers will be armed with Hellfire missiles in addition to laser-guided bombs and might fly for greater than 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometres) at altitudes of as much as 15,000 metres (50,000 toes), based on the US Air Power.
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