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Russian jet crashes US drone over Black Sea: US military

PARIS — A Russian fighter jet dumped fuel on an American drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday and then collided with it, causing the drone to crash, the US military said.

The US European Command said two Russian Su-27 fighters intercepted the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle over international waters and one had its propeller cut off.

“Several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel and flew in front of the MQ-9s in a reckless, polluting and unprofessional manner,” it said.

The statement confirmed an earlier report by AFP of an incident involving a US-made drone in the region.

Russian wiretaps over the Black Sea are common, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told journalists in Washington, but this one “is notable for being insecure and unprofessional, even reckless for being.”

NATO diplomats in Brussels confirmed the incident but said they didn’t expect it to escalate immediately into another confrontation.

A Western military source, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, said diplomatic channels between Russia and the United States could help limit any altercations.

“I think diplomatic channels will mitigate this,” the source said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February has fueled fears of a direct confrontation between Moscow and the western NATO military alliance, which has armed Kiev to help it defend itself.

News of a missile attack in eastern Poland in November last year briefly sparked alarm before Western military sources concluded it was a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile that had failed, rather than a Russian one.

There was no immediate reaction from Moscow.

– “Insecure and unprofessional” –

The United States uses MQ-9 Reapers for both surveillance and attack, and has long operated over the Black Sea to keep tabs on Russian naval forces.

“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in the crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” said US Air Force Gen. James Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa.

“In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional action by the Russians almost caused both planes to crash.

“US and allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace and we urge the Russians to behave professionally and safely,” he added.

The US statement said pilots took the Reaper into international waters, while the US Naval Institute said it crashed off the coast of Odessa in southeastern Ukraine.

Several US Reapers have been lost in recent years, including to enemy fire.

One was shot down over Yemen in 2019 by a surface-to-air missile fired by Houthi rebels, the US Central Command said at the time.

According to media reports, a US MQ-9 crashed in Libya in 2022, while another crashed during a training exercise in Romania earlier that year.

Reapers can be armed with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs, and can fly more than 1,770 kilometers (1,100 miles) at altitudes of up to 15,000 meters (50,000 feet), according to the US Air Force.


Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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