A U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone went down in the Black Sea on Tuesday following an encounter with two Russian Su-27 aircraft. U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) released a declassified video showing the intercept, stating that the MQ-9’s propeller was damaged after a collision with one of the Su-27s which resulted in the Air Force having to bring the drone down in international waters. The aircraft were also seen dumping fuel in front of the MQ-9 and flying in close proximity to it before the collision. Russia’s Ministry of Defense stated that their aircraft did not use weapons and did not come into contact with the drone.
“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 Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa commander Gen. James Hecker. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash.”
The incident occurred at approximately 7:03 a.m. Central European Time on March 14. USEUCOM noted that the published video was edited for length but that the events shown were depicted in sequential order. The U.S. and Russia are both attempting to recover the MQ-9, which is believed to have sunk in an area where the water is several thousand feet deep.