In a press conference, Pentagon officials confirmed that one of the two Russian aircraft clipped the drone’s propeller, forcing the U.S. to land the drone in the ocean.
“At approximately 7:03 AM (CET), one of the Russian Su-27 aircraft struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. 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,” U.S. Air Force Gen. James V. Hecker, the commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe and Africa said in a statement.
Hecker added that the incident demonstrated a “lack of competence” and unprofessionalism from Russia.
Still, a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense denied that any Russian aircraft collided with the drone.
While Moscow does not claim that the U.S. entered Russian air space, a statement did insist that the U.S. should not have been operating in the region because of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
What is the MQ-9 Reaper?
The MQ-9 Reaper, sometimes called the Predator B, is an unmanned aerial vehicle primarily designed for long-endurance and high-altitude surveillance.
The drone was developed for use by the United States Air Force by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, a military contractor based in Poway, California.
The MQ-9 is also equipped with technology that it allows it to locate and engage with targets, making it a hunter-killer UAV.
According to the U.S. Air Force website, the Reaper is “part of a remotely piloted aircraft system” which consists of a sensor and weapon-equipped aircraft, a Predator Primary Satellite link, a ground control station, and spare equipment and maintenance crews who oversee 24-hour missions.
“The MQ-9 baseline system carries the Multi-Spectral Targeting System, which has a robust suite of visual sensors for targeting. The MTS-B integrates an infrared sensor, color, monochrome daylight TV camera, shortwave infrared camera, laser designator, and laser illuminator. The full-motion video from each of the imaging sensors can be viewed as separate video streams or fused,” the Air Force site reads.
The MQ-9 is one of the most advanced drones on the planet, making Russia’s Tuesday attack a real statement to the White House.
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Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.