European Command says a Reaper UAV was damaged in an encounter with two Su-27s
An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft. © Isaac Brekken/Getty Images
A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drone was brought down on Tuesday morning over the Black Sea, after what its European Command (EUCOM) described as “an unsafe and unprofessional intercept” by two Russian jets.
The “Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance” platform was “operating within international airspace” when the airplanes approached, EUCOM said in a statement. One of the Su-27s “struck the propeller of the MQ-9,” so the operators ditched the drone into the sea.
“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,” the US military complained, accusing the Russians of “a lack of competence.”
General James Hecker, the commander of US Air Forces in Europe and Africa, said the drone was “conducting routine operations in international airspace” and that the crash had resulted in a “complete loss” of the MQ-9.