Russian defense minister awards pilots for shooting down an American drone
Reuters || Shining BD
A view of a damaged prop of US Air Force intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance unmanned MQ-9 aircraft, also known as a "Reaper" drone, following an impact by a Russian Su-27 military aircraft over the Black Sea, 14 March, 2023 in this still image taken from handout video released by the Pentagon. Courtesy of US European Command/The Pentagon/Handout via REUTERS
Russian defense minister awards pilots for shooting down an American drone According to his ministry's announcement on Friday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has given awards to the pilots of two Su-27 fighter jets that successfully shot down a US drone near the airspace surrounding Russia's military operation in Ukraine.
In the first known direct military conflict between Russia and the United States since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, a drone that was intercepted by Russian jets on Tuesday crashed into the Black Sea.
The Russian government's version of events, which Washington disputes, that the Russian planes did not make direct physical contact with the drone, was repeated by the ministry when it announced the awards.
"The MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle went into uncontrolled flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface as a result of sharp manoeuvring around 9:30am (Moscow time)," it said.
It claimed that the drone had been operating in violation of airspace restrictions that Russia had made known in connection with what it refers to as its special military operation in Ukraine by flying with its transponders off.
When conducting a reconnaissance mission over the Black Sea in international airspace, the US military claimed that Russian fighter aircraft approached its MQ-9 Reaper drone. It claimed that during a 30- to 40-minute encounter, the fighters harassed the drone and doused it in fuel before one of them clipped its propeller, causing it to crash into the water.
A 40-second edited video that was released by the Pentagon on Thursday shows a Russian fighter jet flying dangerously close to a US military drone in the air, spilling fuel nearby, and the damaged propeller that results. The incident, according to the top US general, showed Moscow's increasingly aggressive behavior.