Video footage released from the Department of Defense was released this past Thursday morning showing the incident in which a pair of Russian fighter jets harassed a U.S. military drone as it flew over international waters — resulting in a collision between one plane and the drone and the total loss of the drone.
“Two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept with a U.S. Air Force intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance unmanned MQ-9 aircraft operating within international airspace over the Black Sea on March 14, 2023,” explained the U.S. European Command in a release. “Russian Su-27s dumped fuel upon and struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters.”
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A previously released statement from this past Tuesday made by the U.S. European Command that the pair of jets had repeatedly harassed the U.S. military drone as it was “conducting routine operations in international airspace.”
“U.S. and Allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace and we call on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely,” stated U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa.
The statement expressed that the incident followed a “pattern of dangerous actions” by Russian pilots while interacting with both Allies and U.S. aircraft over international airspace which could “lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation.”
“U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa routinely fly aircraft throughout Europe over sovereign territory and throughout international airspace in coordination with applicable host nation and international laws,” the statement continued. “In order to bolster collective European defense and security, these missions support Allied, partner, and U.S. national objectives.”
As the Russian Security Council Secretary and the former chief of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Nikolai Patrushev went on to state that the Russian military was going to attempt to recover the $32 million drone from the bottom of the Black Sea.
“The Americans keep saying that they are not participating in hostilities,” Patrushev stated in claims made during a press conference. “This is yet another confirmation that they are directly involved in these events, in the war.”
General Mark Milley explained this past Wednesday that the U.S. does not think of this as an act of war. “Incidents happen,” explained Milley. “And clearly we do not seek armed conflict with Russia and I believe at this point we should investigate this incident and move on from there.”