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Pentagon: Russian jet collides with U.S. drone in international airspace
By Clyde Hughes,
March 14 (UPI) -- U.S. European Command said Russian fighter jets collided with the rear propeller of an unmanned U.S. military drone on Tuesday in international airspace. The damaged drone was forced down in the Black Sea.
A statement from the U.S. European Command said the incident happened about 7:03 a.m. local time when one of two Russian Su-27 aircraft struck the propeller of the MQ-9 Reaper drone. Before the incident, the Russian aircraft flew in front of the drone and dumped fuel on the front of the unmanned craft.
"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," a statement said, according to ABC News . "These aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation."
U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, said the drone was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft.
"In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash," Hecker said, according to Fox News . "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 was the first direct contact between Russian and U.S. aircraft since the start of the Russia's war in Ukraine , CNN reported .
President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Russian aircraft have intercepted U.S. aircraft over the Black Sea in recent weeks, but Tuesday's incident was "unsafe, unprofessional and reckless," CNN reported.
There was no mention of the incident in Russian media as of Tuesday afternoon.