On Tuesday 14th 2023, the US military reported that a Russian fighter jet collided with an American MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea after dumping fuel on it. The incident occurred when two Russian Su-27 fighters intercepted the drone in international waters, with one of the jets clipping the drone’s propeller. Prior to the collision, the Russian jets reportedly engaged in unsafe and unprofessional behavior by dumping fuel on and flying in front of the MQ-9 several times. The US European Command also criticized the Russian jets for their reckless and environmentally harmful actions.
The US military confirmed an earlier report that a US-made drone was involved in an incident with a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea. NATO diplomats in Brussels also confirmed the incident, but didn’t expect it to escalate further. A Western military source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that diplomatic channels would be used to address the issue. The MQ-9 Reaper drone is used by the US for surveillance and strikes and has been used to monitor Russian naval forces in the Black Sea. The situation in the region has become more tense since Russia’s invasion of Western-backed Ukraine.
The US Air Force General James Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, stated that the MQ-9 was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was hit by a Russian aircraft, causing a crash and complete loss of the drone. The US military condemned the actions of the Russian fighter jet and stated that the incident was unsafe and unprofessional.
They highlighted that the Russian’s actions nearly caused a collision between the two aircraft. Despite recent losses of US-made drones, including from hostile fire, the US and allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace. The US Air Force stated that Reapers, like the MQ-9, can be armed with missiles and bombs and can fly for over 1,100 miles at high altitudes.