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Russian Fighter Strikes U.S. Unmanned Aircraft

A Russian Su-27 aircraft struck a U.S. Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle's propeller, causing U.S. forces to bring it down into international waters of the Black Sea early this morning, according to U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa in a statement today. 

A jet flies above thick clouds.
Russian Su-27
A Russian Su-27 fighter flies above a cluster of clouds.
Photo By: Canadian armed forces
VIRIN: 130828-O-OO000-010

"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 stated. 

The MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, he added. 

An unmanned aircraft sits on tarmac in large field.
MQ-9 Demonstration
An MQ-9 Reaper prepares for takeoff at a forward arming and refueling point at the Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Oct. 20, 2022.
Photo By: Air Force Lt. Col. James Wilson
VIRIN: 221020-F-JL557-0353

"This incident follows a pattern of dangerous actions by Russian pilots while interacting with U.S. and allied aircraft over international airspace, including over the Black Sea. These aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation," Hecker stated. 

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder briefed the media regarding the incident. 

An unmanned aircraft is shown hovering above a tree line.
A MQ-9 flies above trees near Fort Drum, N.Y.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ricky Best
VIRIN: 120214-F-IF667-026

The incident most likely caused damage to the Russian aircraft, although it was able to land, he said. 

The U.S. Air Force routinely flies aircraft throughout international airspace in coordination with applicable host nation and international laws and will continue to do so, he said.

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