The United States shot down one of its surveillance drones over the Black Sea on Tuesday after a Russian fighter jet severed its propeller in what State Department spokesman Ned Price called a “blatant violation of international law.”
Moscow said it sent fighter jets to intercept the drone but denied touching or shooting it before it swerved and crashed into the water. Russia’s Defense Ministry told BBC News that the drone’s transponders, which allow the aircraft to be tracked, they were turned off.
It was the first time since the height of the Cold War that a US plane had been shot down after being hit by a Russian fighter jet. The incident prompted the State Department to lodge a protest with the Russian ambassador in Washington, as well as the US ambassador to Russia to speak with officials in Moscow.
The full-size Reaper drone was on a routine surveillance mission over international waters, the US European Command said in a statement from Stuttgart, Germany.
“Our 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 the total loss of the MQ-9,” said Air Force Gen. USA James B. Hecker, Cmdr. of the US Air Forces in Europe and the Air Forces of Africa. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians almost caused both planes to crash.”
Before one of the two Russian Su-27 jets struck the propeller of the MQ-9 drone, the planes “dumped fuel and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, unprofessional and unecological manner,” the command’s statement said. European. “This incident demonstrates a lack of competence as well as being unsafe and unprofessional.”
The incident also raised tensions over Russia’s year-long war in Ukraine. Moscow, for its part, has taken offense at US intelligence flights approaching the Crimean peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.
with cable news services