(CNN) A Russian fighter jet shot down a U.S. Air Force drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday after damaging the propeller of a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone, a U.S. official familiar with the incident said.
The Reaper drone and two SU-27 Flanker jets were operating in international waters over the Black Sea when a Russian jet deliberately flew and dumped fuel in front of the unmanned drone. One of the jets damaged the Reaper’s propeller mounted on the back of the drone, the official said. Damage to the propeller forced the US to scuttle the Reaper in international waters in the Black Sea.
The US Air Force issued a statement saying the Russian plane was operating in an “irresponsible, environmentally unprofessional and unprofessional manner”.
“At approximately 7:03 AM (CET), a Russian Su-27 hit the MQ-9’s propeller, forcing US forces to shoot the MQ-9 down in international waters. Several times before the collision, the Su-27s refueled the MQ-9. “This incident is unsafe and unprofessional and shows incompetence,” US Air Force Gen. James P. Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Force Europe and Air Force Africa, said in the statement.
President Joe Biden National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan was briefed on the incident Tuesday morning, National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby said.
Kirby said it was “unusual” for Russian aircraft to intercept U.S. aircraft in the Black Sea, adding that other interceptions had taken place in recent weeks.
But he said Tuesday’s episode was unique in how “unsafe, unprofessional and irresponsible” the Russian actions were.
CNN has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.
Russian and American aircraft operated during the Black Sea Ukraine warBut this is the first known such interaction, a fatal escalation at a crucial time in the fight.
The US has been operating Reaper drones in the Black Sea since before the start of the war, and has been using spy drones to monitor the area. According to the Air Force, Reaper drones can fly at altitudes of 50,000 feet and have the sensitivity and capabilities to gather intelligence and conduct long-range surveillance, making them ideal platforms for monitoring movements on the battlefield and in the Black Sea. .
This story is breaking and will be updated.
CNN’s Kevin Lipdock contributed reporting.