US drone goes down over Black Sea

Matthias Yeh, Staff Writer

On March 14, 2023, an encounter occurred between a US MQ-9 Reaper Drone and two Russian Jets over the Black Sea. The entire interaction between the two jets and the drone took approximately 30 minutes, resulting in one Russian jet hitting the propeller of the drone, damaging it, and thus causing it to fall into the Black Sea. Prior to the drone being hit, a video released by the Pentagon showed one Russian jet flying and dumping jet fuel on the drone.

After the incident, Russia stated that the two jets had been scrambled because the US had “violated” the borders that had been placed by Russia for their “special military operation” in Ukraine (AP News). They also stated that the drone had tried to change direction too harshly, labeling this as the reason that the drone had gone down. Thus, they rejected the idea that they had interfered or caused the downing, saying that the jets had not fired their weapons nor did they hit the drone that would have ended up bringing it down. 

The US responded to these statements from Russia by releasing a Pentagon video showing one of the Russian jets spraying fuel on the drone before one of the jets hit the back of the drone, damaging the propeller before it fell. The majority of the responses from the US have gone on to say that Russia was acting in an “unprofessional and unsafe” (AP News) environment for both the jets and the drone.

This interaction between the US and Russia is coming at a time in which tensions between the two countries have begun to increase to a level approaching that of the the Cold War era. The US has expressed concerns about Russian pilots’ recent aggression that could eventually spark a conflict between the two nations. Russia has said that they believe the US is acting in provocatively and has encouraged the US to back off from sending so many drones and other surveillance. The US has made it clear that they do not plan on backing down from continuing to send surveillance drones and conduct other operations within the area.