Russian fighters collide with US drone, force it down close to Ukraine
The U.S. called the incident "dangerous," warns of "unintended escalation."
(ABC NEWS)—Russian fighter jets collided with the rear propeller of an unmanned U.S. military drone on Tuesday, forcing the U.S. to bring down the drone into the waters off the Black Sea, U.S. officials said.
U.S. European Command labeled the incident as “dangerous” and said it could “lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation.”
“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,” U.S. European Command said in a statement.
“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,” it added.
EUCOM said the incident “demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional.”
The incident is apparently the latest in what EUCOM labeled a “a pattern of dangerous actions by Russian pilots while interacting with U.S. and Allied aircraft over international airspace, including over the Black Sea.”
And it stressed that “These aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation.”
“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.