On March 14, 2023, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet intentionally hit the propeller of an American MQ-9 Reaper drone flying over international waters in the Black Sea. As a result, the US military had to force the drone down, and the Russian and US military aircraft came into direct physical contact. The Russian aircraft flew in the vicinity of the drone for 30-40 minutes before the collision at around 7 am Central European Time. This is the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine that Russian and US military aircraft came into direct physical contact. The US Air Force Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, Gen. James B. Hecker, condemned Russia’s action as “unsafe and unprofessional.”
Why Does It Matter?
The forced drone down by a Russian fighter jet over international waters is a significant incident that could escalate tensions between the two nations, with the US calling Russia’s actions “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional.” The incident comes amidst other intercepts in recent weeks by Russian aircraft of US aircraft over the Black Sea. This incident raises concerns about international airspace violations and collisions between aircraft from two powerful countries. It highlights the need for airspace protocols and agreements to prevent such incidents from escalating into potential armed conflicts.
The incident raises concerns about possible retaliation and escalation in tensions between the US and Russia. Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov and Assistant Secretary Karen Donfried met at the State Department to discuss the incident. Antonov denied that the Russian jet had come into contact with the drone and warned the US about the consequences of similar incidents happening close to US airspace. The US Defense Department is currently declassifying imagery from the incident. The incident highlights the importance of international agreements and protocols to prevent future similar incidents and to keep airspace safe.