A Russian Su-27 jet, one of two flying in tandem, collided with a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone in international airspace over the Black Sea, Fox News and other outlets reported 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," said U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, in a press release from United States European Command.
"In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash," he added.
"U.S. and Allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace and we call on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely."
The incident occurred at 7:03 a.m. Central European Time or 1:03 a.m. ET. One of the two Russian aircraft struck the propeller of the U.S. drone, causing U.S. forces to have to bring down the MQ-9 in international waters.
The Russian jets, Su-27s, repeatedly dumped fuel prior to the collision and flew in front of the U.S. drone "in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner," USEUCOM's press release said.
The 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," the release also said.
USEUCOM's release warned that the aggressive actions of the Russian aircrew are dangerous and could result in "miscalculation and unintended escalation."
Flights throughout Europe over sovereign territory and through international airspace are routine, USEUCOM's release states. They are flown in coordination with "applicable host nation and international laws." Such missions support "Allied, partner, and U.S. national objectives."
USEUCOM is responsible for U.S. military operations across Europe, portions of Asia and the Middle East, the Arctic, and the Atlantic Ocean. Its 64,000 military and civilian personnel work closely with NATO allies and parneters. It is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.
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