(breitbart) – A U.S. drone was lost over international waters on Tuesday after a pair of Russian fighter jets flew dangerously close to the aircraft, dumping fuel onto the drone and then striking its propeller.
A MQ-9 ‘Reaper’ drone — an unmanned aerial surveillance and attack drone — was lost over the Black Sea on Tuesday, the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) said, with U.S. Air Forces Europe blaming the loss on what amounted to an attack by Russian fighter jets.
While, according to an account of the interaction leading to the loss of the U.S. drone seen by Breitbart News, no weapons were fired in the confrontation two Russian Sukhoi 27 fighter jets used unconventional means to push the aircraft out of the sky. EUCOM said of the incident: “Two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept… one of the Russian Su-27 aircraft struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters”.
The EUCOM statement accused the Russians of being “unsafe and unprofessional”, and furthermore that their tactics were “environmentally unsound”. This accusation is based on the fact that, the USAF says, the Russian fighters at times flew directly in front of the drone and dumped jet fuel into its path.
U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa said the drone was on “routine operations” at the time of the intercept and the strike on the propeller caused a “total loss”. Indeed, he said the collision between a Russian jet and a U.S. drone nearly caused the loss of both aircraft.
“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 General added.
The Russian government has yet to release their own statement on the incident, but Russian state media has reported the United States’ statement in terms of being alleged, claims, and accusations.
Whether any repercussions for the loss of the drone for Russia will follow is not yet clear, but the incident has certain parallels to the downing of a U.S. drone by Iran, again over international waters, in 2019. A retaliatory raid against Iranian targets was planned, but President Donald Trump pulled the plug on the operation after it became apparent, he said, that there could be a number of human lives lost in return for the loss of an unmanned drone.
As Breitbart News reported at the time, the then-President wrote of his decision to spare lives: “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night… Ten minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone”.