A Russian fighter jet “harassed and then collided with” a U.S. drone over the Black Sea earlier in the week, forcing American forces to crash land the MQ-9 Reaper drone into international waters.
“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 Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, the commander of 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.”
NBC News reported that “two Russian Su-27 fighter jets tracked the U.S. surveillance drone as it flew in international airspace over the Black Sea, which borders Turkey, Ukraine and Russia, among other countries. Before the collision, the jets ‘dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner,’ according to a statement from U.S. European Command.
On Thursday, the Pentagon released video footage of the incident.
“The 42-second video clip taken from the MQ-9 drone begins as the Russian SU-27 approaches from the rear of the unmanned craft. As the Russian jet closes in, it releases a stream of jet fuel over the top of the drone, seeming to scramble the circuits, according to The Daily Caller.
The Washington Examiner explained that following the incident, “the military was then essentially forced to crash-land the drone into the Black Sea, but not before it was able to wipe the drone of sensitive data, should it fall into the wrong hands, though it is hoping to recover it itself.
‘It probably broke up, probably not a lot to recover, frankly,’ Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Wednesday briefing. ‘As far as the loss of anything of sensitive intelligence, etc., as normal we would take, and we did take, mitigating measures. So we are quite confident that whatever was of value is no longer of value.’
He also said it’ll take days for the military to figure out whether it will be able to recover the drone because the debris ‘probably sank to some significant depths,’ while Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said Russia will try to get the wreckage of the drone themselves.
This type of behavior from Russian pilots is becoming more common, though this is the first time a Russian pilot has crashed into a U.S. drone. Noting as much, Milley said it’s clear the Russian pilot intentionally intercepted the U.S. drone, but it remains unclear if the pilot intended to strike it.”
The incident between American and Russian forces comes as the war in Ukraine continues to escalate. The Wall Street Journal reported, “Poland released the first details of its and other European countries’ plans to send MiG-29 warplanes to Ukraine, pushing Western support for Kyiv over an important threshold ahead of a planned offensive later this spring, despite warnings from Russia against Western nations playing a larger role in the conflict.
The Polish government this week said a coalition of countries was willing to send their Soviet-designed MiG-29 warplanes to Ukraine and Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that Warsaw would deliver its own planes in 4-6 weeks, Polish state news agency PAP reported. An official at the country’s Bureau for National Security said Poland could send 4-5 planes “for a start” as soon as a week from now.
“Our security will not suffer,” said government spokesman Piotr Muller on Thursday. “We will keep the Russian front from our borders at all times.”
The delivery of the jets is the latest show of support from Poland and other European countries at a time when Ukraine is preparing for a spring offensive against Russian defensive positions that have dug in over the winter.”
Ukraine pilots are familiar with the jets. Throughout the war neither Russia nor Ukraine has been able to gain air superiority, a crucial element that will likely determine the outcome of the conflict.
Joe Biden has been insistent that the United States must continue to be in the middle of the war, regardless of what happens at home. Over the past decade, members of the Biden family, led by the president’s son Hunter, have received millions of dollars from “business connections” to the region.
Last February, it was discovered that the president had taken classified documents related to Ukraine with him after leaving office as vice president.
Earlier in the week, one of the president’s potential rivals, Ron DeSantis, questioned how vital Ukraine is to the long-term security of America. Unlike Poland, Ukraine is not a member of NATO.