Russia’s fighter jet sends US drone into the Black Sea



​A Russian fighter jet has collided with an American MQ-9 drone over the Black Sea, forcing the latter to fall on the waters, according to a statement released by the Pentagon. 

According to the US version of the story, the Reaper drone was flying above the Black Sea alongside two Russian Su-27 aircraft on Tuesday when the Russian jet intentionally flew in front of the drone and dumped fuel on it several times. After several minutes, the aircraft hit the propeller of the drone, forcing it down the waters. 

“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,”, the commander of US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, said on Tuesday. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash.”

“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. This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional,” Hecker added.

Mr Hecker said the Russian pilots have a pattern of carrying out dangerous actions while interacting with U.S and allied aircraft over international airspace, including the black sea. 

These aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation,” Hecker continued.

Spokesperson of the Pentagon, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said the Russian jet flew “in the vicinity” of the drone for about 40 minutes before the collision at about 7 a.m. 

Tuesday’s collision was the first time there was direct contact between the fighter equipment of both countries. Interestingly, there is no indication it would lead to further escalation of the war. But as expected, Russia has a different version of the same story. 

Russia’s version of the story

While the US military says its drone was attacked by the Russian fighter jet, the Russian defence ministry insisted that its aircraft did not come into contact with the MQ-9 Reaper drone. The ministry argued that the US-made drone violated “the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime” according to international standards. 

“On 14 March 2023 in the morning, the Russian airspace control systems have detected an American MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle flying over the Black Sea near the Crimean Peninsula in the direction of the state border of the Russian Federation,” the defence ministry statement reads. “The drone flew with its transponders off, violating the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation, communicated to all users of international airspace, and published in accordance with international standards.”

The statement added that the drone went “into an unguided flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface,” adding that it was not a Russian jet that caused its fall. 

“The Russian aircraft did not use onboard weapons, did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle, and returned safely to their home airfield,” the statement added. 

American drones have no business near Russia’s border

Following the rare collision, the Russian ambassador to the US was summoned by the State Department. Yet, Anatoly Antonov has no apologies for the United States. Instead, he questioned what the US drone was doing near the Russian border. 

“Could you imagine if such a UAV appeared suddenly close to New York or San Francisco?” Antonov asked. “Can you imagine the reaction of the US press, the Pentagon, to this drone? What kind of drone was it?” 

“Think about this before summoning me to the State Department. It’s a multipurpose [drone], with strike capabilities of up to a 1,700-kilogram explosive payload,” he said. “Tell me how any Ministry of Defence of any country would react to the threat of such danger appearing along their borders?”

“As we see it, American aircraft have no business being near the Russian border,” he insisted.

On the professionality of the Jets pilots, Mr Antonov insisted that the men were professionals by avoiding contact with the drone. 

“No contact was made, nor were any weapons used by our fighter jets,” he said, adding that it would be better if the two parties discuss more important matters rather than frequently inviting him to protest Russia’s actions and inactions. 

“The Russian Federation is not interested in confrontation. The Russian side is interested in pragmatic relations with the USA in the interests of both the Russian and American people,” he said.

America does not want its drone to end up in the wrong hands

Following the incident, the US military said it does not want the remains of the drone to end up in the hands of anyone apart from its owner. National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, told CNN that they are taking steps to protect their equities. 

“Without getting into too much detail, what I can say is that we’ve taken steps to protect our equities with respect to that particular drone — that particular aircraft. And it’s the United States property. We obviously don’t want to see anybody getting their hands on it beyond us,” John Kirby said on Tuesday. 


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