A Russian fighter jet collided with a US drone, which resulted in the unmanned US aircraft crashing into the Black Sea, the US military has confirmed.
The US military said the drone, which was a Reaper drone with a 66ft wingspan, was on a routine mission in international airspace when two Russian fighter jets reportedly intercepted it.
Russia denied this and said that the US drone crashed following a “sharp maneuver”, and denied reports that their fighter jets made any contact with it.
The Russian defense ministry also said the MQ-9 Reaper drone was flying with its transponders turned off. Transponders are communications devices that allow the aircraft to be tracked.
The US military confirmed that the collision took place at approximately 07:03 Central European Time (06:03 GMT) on Tuesday.
“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 statement said.
The statement went onto say that ahead of the collision, the SU-27 fighter jets dumped fuel on the drone in a “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner”,
The US requested an urgent meeting with the Russian ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, following the collision.
Following the meeting, Russian state media quoted Antonov as saying that Moscow saw the drone incident as “a provocation”.
The US military said there had been a “pattern of dangerous actions by Russian pilots” interacting with allied aircraft in the region.
The US speculated that this could either have been a mistake where the fighter jets got too close to the drone and “buzzed” it or it could have been an act of deliberate provocation.
As US military commanders cautioned that this act “could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation.”
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