WASHINGTON – A Russian jet collided with a U.S. Air Force drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday, causing the drone to crash after an “unsafe and unprofessional intercept,” the U.S. military reported.
The incident occurred Tuesday morning when two Russian SU-27 fighters conducted an intercept of the MQ-9 drone that demonstrated the pilots’ “lack of competence,” according to a statement from U.S. European Command. One of the fighters clipped the propeller of the drone, forcing U.S. operators to bring it down in international waters.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan briefed President Joe Biden on the incident, John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told reporters Tuesday. Russian pilots have intercepted U.S. warplanes in recent weeks but not in such a “reckless” manner, Kirby said.
U.S. drone operators crash-landed the damaged MQ-9 into the sea, Ryder said.
The crash of the drone comes amid heightened tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in Feb. 2022, the United States has sent more than $30 billion in military aid to Ukraine.
The U.S. should not respond with direct force against Russia, said Notre Dame Law School professor Mary Ellen O’Connell, an expert on international law and the use of force.
While the drone was probably conducting surveillance for Ukraine, Russia’s disruption of the Reaper was within the laws of armed conflict, even if Russia had better ways of doing so, she said.