Dangerous accident in the Black Sea: Russian aircraft shot down an American drone
A Russian Su-27 fighter jet “intercepted and rammed” a US Reaper drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday and caused it to fall, an act described by the White House as “reckless”, amid a war in Ukraine Creates an expectation of growth.
General James Hecker, commander of US Air Forces in Europe, said, “Our MQ-9 drone was performing routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and rammed by a Russian aircraft, resulting in the MQ-9 crashing.” It happened and the damage was done.” , confirms information previously disclosed by AFP on an incident involving a Reaper in the Black Sea.
It is the first time since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory on February 24, 2022 that a NATO country, supporting Ukraine, has admitted to losing equipment it operates in this highly inflammable region.
“This is a dangerous and unprofessional act on the part of the Russians,” the senior official said, adding that “US and allied drones will continue to operate in international airspace.” , and called on the Russians to “behave professionally”.
The US military stressed in the same statement, “aggressive actions by Russian crews could lead to miscalculations and unintended escalation.”
According to the US Naval Institute, the collision appears to have happened in the airspace of the Ukrainian city of Odessa.
According to the FlightRadar24 website, a P-8A Poseidon maritime reconnaissance aircraft was circling off the coast of Romania after taking off from Sigonella Air Base, Italy.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House, condemned a “reckless act” on the part of the Russians, noting that US drones had been intercepted by Russian aircraft in the past, but that the incident was “unique” resulting in the Reaper. Harm.
As of 6:00 pm GMT on Tuesday, Russian officials had not responded to this information.
– Regular talks in the Black Sea –
The skies over the Black Sea are the scene of very regular interactions between drones and aircraft of NATO countries and the Russian Armed Forces, especially since the start of the war in Ukraine.
“With the current crisis, we have, with the Reaper, an increase in the number of reconnaissance vectors towards Crimea, which we did not have before. And depending on the situation, this may upset the Russians. Western archive (of) There have been activities (Information, editor’s note) that participate in targeting for Ukraine”, underlines a French expert on condition of anonymity.
Ukraine’s Western allies, which have been supplying Kiev with weapons since the start of the conflict to help defend themselves, are not directly involved in Ukrainian territory for fear of growing closer with Russian nuclear power.
Thus, “it is possible that diplomatic channels downplay the incident,” said a Western military source.
The Reaper drone, manufactured by the American company General Atomics, is a remotely piloted aircraft of the MALE type (medium altitude long endurance), equipped with ultra-modern on-board sensors (Optronic ball and radar) to conduct surveillance operations. cruising speed of 335 km / h.
With a wingspan of 20 meters, it has a flight autonomy of more than 24 hours. It can carry several types of warheads: laser and/or GPS (GBU) guided bombs or Hellfire missiles. Its ground crew consists of 4 people.
In addition to the United States, several European militaries have Reaper drones in their fleets, including the British, Italian, French, and Spanish.