US says Russian fighter jet hit US drone over Black Sea

US says Russian fighter jet hit US drone over Black Sea
US says Russian fighter jet hit US drone over Black Sea

WASHINGTON — A Russian warplane hit a U.S. surveillance drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday, hitting the drone’s propeller and causing its U.S. operators to bring it down in international waters, the Pentagon said during the first known physical contact between the Russian and the American. soldiers since the start of the war in Ukraine last February.

The downing of the MQ-9 Reaper, a workhorse in the US Army’s airborne reconnaissance fleet, immediately heightened tensions between the White House and the Kremlin as US officials blamed Russian forces involved in the incident of behaving dangerously.

US military officials said the unarmed Reaper drone was carrying out a typical reconnaissance mission when it was intercepted by two Russian Su-27 fighter jets about 75 miles southwest of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, which the Russia used it as a base to launch devastating strikes.

“Several times before the collision, the Su-27s spilled fuel and flew past the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unfriendly and unprofessional manner,” Army European Command said in a statement. a statement. “This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being dangerous and unprofessional.”

John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said there had been similar “interceptions” by Russian aircraft in recent weeks – almost all of them without incident, according to military officials – but that this episode was “remarkable because of how dangerous and unprofessional it was.

President Biden was briefed on the episode, he added.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington and turned the Black Sea into an effective combat zone. Russia has blocked Ukrainian ships in their own ports, although Ukraine was able to export its grain across the sea under an agreement signed last July between the two warring countries.

At the same time, Ukraine attacked Russian Navy ships in the Black Sea as well as in the port. In April, a Ukrainian missile sank the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, a strike that shook Moscow’s aura of naval invincibility.

The war also galvanized the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, including strengthening ties between Washington and Russia’s border members, including Poland and the Baltic states. NATO countries have poured billions of dollars in military aid to support Ukraine, but the alliance has tried to avoid directly fueling confrontation with Russia, a nuclear-armed state.

Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, said the Russian ambassador in Washington had been summoned to receive an official objection from the United States to the downing of the drone, which he called “ dangerous and unprofessional interception” and “brazen violation of international law”.

In a conference call with reporters, he said US Ambassador to Moscow Lynne M. Tracy also “sent a strong message to the Russian Foreign Ministry.”

The state of war

  • In the first line : From Kupiansk to Bakhmut, Russian forces are attacking along a 160-mile arc in eastern Ukraine in an escalating struggle for tactical advantage ahead of possible spring offensives.
  • Charting a political breakthrough: Recent statements by Evgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, suggest that he wants to rise above his status as a military leader and play a bigger role in Russian society.
  • War crimes cases: The International Criminal Court intends to open two war crimes cases related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The cases accuse Russia of abducting Ukrainian children and deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure.
  • Ukrainian refugees in the United States: The Biden administration has said thousands of Ukrainians who fled to the United States in the early months of the war would be eligible to extend their stay.

The Russian Defense Ministry denied that its fighter jets were to blame and offered another account of the confrontation. He said in a statement that after the Russian Air Force dispatched fighter jets to identify the drone, the unmanned US aircraft maneuvered sharply, lost altitude and hit the water.

The drone was flying near the Crimean peninsula and heading towards the Russian border with its ID transponder turned off, contrary to instructions Russia issued for the airspace above its military operations in Ukraine, the statement said. .

But a US official said the downing of the drone was not some kind of “concerted chess move” by Russia. And several U.S. officials said they saw no information that it was the first salvo in a broader strategy to harass U.S. or NATO reconnaissance planes.

The drone attack was not necessarily an accident. The fuel drop in front of the Reaper, for example, was clearly deliberate. But US officials said they did not believe the Russians intended to cut off the drone’s propeller with their aircraft, a risky move that could easily have brought down not only the drone but the Su-27 as well. .

While Russia has in the past deliberately harassed US reconnaissance aircraft and warships, there have also been incidents in which Russian pilots have independently performed dangerous maneuvers that have led to steps by diplomats.

A senior US military official said the MQ-9 took off from its base in Romania on Tuesday morning for a regular reconnaissance mission, which usually lasts about nine to ten hours. While Reapers can carry Hellfire missiles, this plane was unarmed, the official said.

Flying at approximately 25,000 feet, the Reaper’s sophisticated cameras and other sensors could peer into Russian-controlled Crimea while flying in international airspace, a typical mission MQ-9s carried out long before the war began. in Ukraine, the official said.

But Tuesday’s monitoring mission quickly took a dangerous turn. Brig. Pentagon spokesman Gen. Patrick Ryder said Russian Su-27 planes flew close to the US Reaper for about 30 to 40 minutes.

The much faster Russian fighter jets repeatedly circled the propeller-driven Reaper, dumping fuel on it, apparently in an attempt to smear the drone’s cameras or damage its other sensors, the senior military official said.

The incident stunned US military officials as they watched it via video feed from the drone to an operations center at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the military official said. General Ryder said the Department of Defense was taking the necessary steps to declassify the footage.

General Ryder declined to discuss any effort to recover the MQ-9, which crashed in waters dominated by the Russian Navy.

David A. Deptula, a retired Air Force three-star general and dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, said that unless this particular MQ-9 has a unique sensor on board, “it won’t there is no great loss if the Russians recover it”.

“MQ-9s have been lost over Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria, and some parts have certainly been exploited/shared,” he said in an email.

Senior US officials have feared for months that an incident or miscommunication on the Black Sea could lead to a bigger problem. Last October, Russia fired a missile near an unarmed British surveillance plane flying over the Black Sea.

Russian fighters frequently make “interceptions” – in-flight recordings of US and allied aircraft – over the Black Sea, as well as other areas where Western and Russian aircraft fly in adjacent airspace, from the Baltic Sea off the coast of Alaska.

Most of those engagements are professionally handled, US officials said, but Russian fighters have flown dangerously close to US and allied aircraft on several occasions over the past decade in apparent acts of intimidation.

Some of the incidents, including a near collision with a US warplane, occurred in eastern Syria, where Russian military forces support the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The MQ-9 Reaper drone is a staple of the United States military air fleet and is used for both surveillance and attack.

The drone can reach speeds of up to 275 miles per hour and fly at an altitude of 50,000 feet. It is designed for long missions, with some models able to fly for up to 34 hours, according to its manufacturer, California-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc..

While the Reaper can drop bombs and launch missiles, its slow speed and lack of defensive weapons make it relatively easy to take down.

The MQ-9 Reaper is a newer and larger version of the MQ-1 Predator drone, which the US Air Force used until 2018. Reapers are faster, have better sensors and can carry more ammo, according to an Air Force statement. , who paid up to $32 million for one.

The harvesters are piloted remotely by a team of pilots and ground sensor operators, often far from the drones themselves. A pilot controls take-off, flight path and landing, while sensor operators control cameras and surveillance equipment.

The United States has used the aircraft in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. While the use of drones in attacks in which civilians have been killed has drawn criticism, their advocates have argued that their ability to strike targets with precision minimizes collateral damage.

The report was provided by Matthew Mpoke Bigg from London, Neil MacFarquhar And Carly Olson from New York, Lara Jacques of Rome, and Julian E. Barnes, Edward Wong And Michael S. Schmidt from Washington.



. Les USA declare quun plane hunting russian hit drone american above mer Black

. Russian fighter jet hit drone Black Sea

PREV Ex-Georgia cop charged with killing missing girl charged with malicious murder
NEXT Kansas ADA violation claims subject to new scrutiny in bill dubbed ‘nuclear warhead’