Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Ukraine war: what is and isn’t known about the US drone and Russia jet crash – Usky News

London: According to the US military, a Russian fighter jet dumped fuel on an American MQ-9 Reaper Drone was flying over the Black Sea on Tuesday, causing the plane to crash after colliding with it.
The US European Command said two Russian Su-27 fighter jets intercepted the drone over international waters, with one knocking off its propeller. According to the command, before the collision, the Su-27 repeatedly flew in front of the MQ-9 and refueled in an unprofessional and careless manner.
Here’s what’s known — and uncertain — about the crash.
what is the US version
pentagon And the US European Command said two Russian Su-27 jets refueled the MQ-9, which was conducting a routine surveillance mission over the Black Sea in international airspace. He said the Russian jets flew in front of and around the drone several times for 30 to 40 minutes, and then one of the Russian planes “struck the propeller of the MQ-9, prompting the US military to bring down the MQ-9″. Lies in international waters.”
Air Force Gen. James Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe and Africa, said the actions of the Russian jets “almost caused the downing of both planes.” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the collision likely damaged the Russian fighter jet as well, but the Sukhoi-27 was able to land. He wouldn’t say where it landed.
The Pentagon said the drone was “well clear” of any Ukrainian territory, but did not provide details. A US defense official said it was operating west of Crimea over the Black Sea. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to provide mission details.
It is not clear whether the collision was an accident or intentional, but both sides agree that the Russian aircraft was trying to intercept the drone.
what is the russian version
Russia’s defense ministry said Tuesday it scrambled fighter jets after a US drone was detected over the Black Sea, but denied it crashed despite allegations from Washington.
“As a result of the rapid maneuver… the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle entered an uncontrolled flight, losing altitude and hitting the water surface,” the ministry said in a statement. did not use their on-board weapons, did not make any contact with the UAV”.
Russia has declared wide areas near Crimea off-limits to flights. Long before Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and invaded Ukraine last year, Moscow has alleged that US surveillance planes were flying too close to its borders, ignoring notices issued by Russia.
Nations routinely operate in international airspace and waters, and no country can claim territory over territory outside its territory.
What is MQ-9 Reaper?
The MQ-9 Reaper is a large unmanned aircraft of the Air Force that is operated remotely by a two-person team. It includes a ground control station and satellite equipment and has a 66-foot (20-meter) wingspan. The team consists of a rated pilot who is responsible for flying the aircraft and an enlisted aircrew member who is charged with operating the sensors and guiding the weapons.
Used regularly during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for surveillance and airstrikes, the Reaper can be either armed or unarmed. It can carry up to eight laser-guided missiles.
According to the US Air Force, Reapers can be armed with Hellfire missiles as well as laser-guided bombs and can fly over 1,100 miles (1,770 km) at altitudes of up to 15,000 meters (50,000 ft).
It is approximately 36 feet long, 12 feet high and weighs approximately 4,900 pounds (11 meters long, 4 meters high, and 2,200 kg). It has a range of about 1,400 nautical miles (2,500 km).
Reaper, which first began operating in 2007, replaced the Air Force’s smaller Predator drone. Each Reaper cost about $32 million.
diplomatic row
The confrontation triggered a diplomatic protest.
The US State Department summoned Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov to a meeting with Karen Donfried, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, on Tuesday.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “We are again in direct communication with the Russians at a senior level to express our strong objection to this unsafe, unprofessional interception that led to the downing of the unmanned US aircraft.”
And White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the US would “express its concern over this unsafe and unprofessional interception.”
Ryder said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had not spoken to his Russian counterpart regarding the incident.
Has this happened before?
It is not the first time Russian planes have flown so close to US aircraft over the Black Sea that it has prompted the Pentagon to publicly condemn the incident for putting the crew at risk. In 2020, Russian jets crossed in front of a B-52 bomber flying over the Black Sea, and flew as close as 100 feet (30 m) in front of the bomber’s nose, causing turbulence.
Russian jets have also rammed American warships during exercises in the Black Sea. In 2021, Russian warplanes ram the Navy destroyer USS Donald Cook, which was participating in a major exercise. US warships were deployed more frequently to the Black Sea in response to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea, until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.
For the most part, however, military interventions – either in the air or at sea – are routine and have occurred several times in the Pacific with Russian aircraft, especially in the north. Just last month, US fighter jets intercepted two Russian Tu-95 bombers in international airspace off the coast of Alaska and “escorted them” for 12 minutes, according to the Pentagon.
And Russian planes have carried out similar missions, and have also buzzed US Navy ships in the Pacific. In most cases, intercepts are considered safe and professional.
It is unclear whether Russian pilots were willing to get close to Reaper or dump fuel on it because they knew it was unmanned – and therefore posed no risk to American pilots or crew. The intentional downing of a manned aircraft—injuring or killing crew members—can be considered an act of war.
(with inputs from agencies)


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