On March 14, the U.S. European Command blamed Russian Su-27 fighter pilots for the loss of the MQ-9 Reaper UAV over the Black Sea. The incident comes after the USAF B-52H bomber simulated a nuclear missile launch in St Petersburg on March 11.
It happened over the neutral seas of the Black Sea, and as a result of the accident, the U.S. drone sustained propeller damage, was unable to continue flying, and crashed into the sea. The Russian plane returned to its base in Crimea. There was no word on whether the Su-27 was damaged.
According to U.S. Air Forces Europe- Air Forces Africa, based at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, two Russian Su-27 aircraft engaged in an unsafe and unprofessional intercept with a U.S. Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance unmanned MQ-9 aircraft operating within international airspace over the Black Sea today.
At around 7:03 a.m. (CET), a Russian Su-27 aircraft collided with the MQ-9’s propeller, forcing U.S. forces to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters. The Su-27s spilt fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 several times before the crash, which was dangerous, environmentally unsound, and unprofessional. This occurrence indicates a lack of skill while also being dangerous and unprofessional.
According to U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, the MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and struck by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and total loss of the MQ-9. In fact, he claims that the Russians’ reckless and unprofessional behaviour nearly caused both planes to crash.
U.S. and allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace, and we urge the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely, according to Hecker.
According to the release, this event is part of a pattern of risky behaviour by Russian pilots while interacting with U.S. and allied aircraft over international airspace, especially over the Black Sea. These aggressive measures by Russian aircrew are risky, as they may result in miscalculation and unintentional escalation.
Air Forces Africa routinely conducts aircraft across the sovereign territory and international airspace throughout Europe in compliance with the host nation and international legislation. According to the statement, these missions promote Allied, partner, and U.S. national objectives in order to boost collective European defence and security.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, on 14 March 2023, in the morning, Russian airspace control systems spotted an American MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle travelling over the Black Sea near the Crimean Peninsula in the path of the Russian state border. As a result of quick manoeuvring around 9.30 a.m. (Moscow time), the MQ-9 drone took off unguided, lost altitude, and struck the ocean surface. The Russian planes did not deploy their onboard weaponry, did not collide with the unmanned aerial vehicle, and returned safely to their home base.