Russian leadership ordered pilots flying the Su-27 fighter jets on Tuesday to be aggressive in intercepting the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone, several senior U.S. officials confirm to Fox News.
A Russian Su-27 fighter plane collided with a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone while traveling over the Black Sea on Tuesday. The collision happened over international airspace while over international waters, with the jet in question being one of two Su-27s flying in tandem. A defense official said that the drone’s propeller was damaged, forcing it to be ditched west of Crimea in the west sea.
The senior U.S. officials couldn’t confirm if the pilots flying the Su-27 fighter jets were specifically told to take the drone down, saying that clipping the drone’s propeller could have been pilot error.
U.S. European Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa said in a statement on Tuesday that prior to the collision, the Russian jet dumped fuel on the U.S. drone.
US VIDEO SHOWS MOMENT RUSSIAN FIGHTER JET COLLIDES WITH US DRONE
“At approximately 7:03 AM (CET), 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. 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. This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional,” the statement reads.
Russian officials said on Wednesday that operations were underway to collect the remnants of the U.S. drone, but U.S. officials say that nothing of value with the drone has been recovered by Russians. The U.S. hasn’t asked any allies in the region to attempt to find the drone, but one country has offered to help, the official said.
RUSSIA TO TRY RECOVERING DOWNED US DRONE AS US VOWS TO ‘PROTECT OUR EQUITIES’
“It probably broke up and probably not a lot to recover, frankly. As far as the loss of anything of sensitive intelligence, etc., as normal, we would and we did take mitigating measures. So we are quite confident that whatever was of value is no longer a value,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
Milley added that “clearly, we do not seek armed conflict with Russia.”
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin described the incident as a continuation of risky behavior from Russia.
“This hazardous episode is part of a pattern of aggressive, risky and unsafe actions by Russian pilots in international airspace,” Austin said.
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