Russian Jet & U.S. Drone Collide over Black Sea

March 14, 2023

National Security spokesperson John Kirby confirmed Tuesday that a Russian fighter jet collided with a U.S. Air Force drone over the Black Sea.

Kirby said it is “not uncommon for there to be intercepts by Russian aircraft of U.S. aircraft over the Black Sea.” He added, “But this one obviously is noteworthy because of how unsafe and unprofessional it was.”

European Command said that a Russian Su-27 fighter jet collided with an American MQ-9 Reaper drone (see photo). 

Echoing the words of Kirby that the incident was “unsafe” and “unprofessional,” U.S. Air Force General James Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, said, “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.”

Kirby said President Biden had been briefed on the collision by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday morning.

Russian and U.S. aircraft have operated over the Black Sea throughout the war in Ukraine, and the U.S. has been operating the Reaper spy drones over the Black Sea since before the war began, but this is the first known such interaction.

The Air Force says the drones are ideal for tracking battlefield movements as they can fly as high as 50,000 feet, and are capable of gathering intelligence and performing recon for extended periods of time.

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