A U.S. drone collided mid-air with a Russian fighter jet on Tuesday, the Department of Defense said, resulting in the drone crashing into the Black Sea.
The Pentagon said that two Russian aircraft had been flying around the MQ-9 drone in a "reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner," before also dumping fuel on the drone.
One of the Su-27 jets struck the drone's propeller, causing the unmanned drone to go down. Officials said that the crash resulted in a "complete loss" of the drone.
"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," said Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of the U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa. "In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash," he said.
Both U.S. and Russian aircraft have been flying over the Black Sea since the start of the war in Ukraine, but this is the first known instance of a potentially escalated interaction between the two countries. All aircraft had been flying in international airspace.