USAF Gen. James Hecker commented on the drone's downing, commenting "Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in int'l airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9."
A news release states, "Two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept with a US Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance unmanned MQ-9 aircraft that was operating within international airspace over the Black Sea today."
"At approximately 7:03 AM (CET), one of the Russian Su-27 aircraft struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing US 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," it continues.
"In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash."
"US and Allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace and we call on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely," Hecker added.
The incident follows a "pattern of dangerous actions by Russian pilots while interacting with US and Allied aircraft over international airspace," the release continues, "including over the Black Sea. These aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation."
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