Russian jet and U.S. drone collide over Black Sea


Photo from US Air Force

A Russian fighter jet collided with a MQ-9 Reaper U.S. surveillance drone (pictured above) over the Black Sea on March 14.

In a skirmish between a Russian fighter jet and a U.S. surveillance drone over the Black Sea on March 14, the U.S. drone was forced down, heightening tension between the U.S. and Moscow. 

Two Russian Su-27 jets and the Reaper drone were flying over the Black Sea when one of the jets approached the Reaper. Footage shows the jet dumping fuel onto the drone. The video from the drone is then disrupted as the Russian fighter jet strikes the MQ-9 Reaper, damaging the propeller and forcing the U.S. to bring down the drone into the Black Sea. Russia has denied that a collision occurred, claiming that the jets never made contact with the U.S. drone. U.S. officials believe that the collision was purposeful, but their true intentions remain unknown, according to an NPR March 16 report. The jet flew over the drone twice, indicating that it could have been intentional; however, it may have just been a product of recklessness. 

On the way down, operators remotely wiped the drone’s sensitive software to lessen the risk of secret materials falling into enemy hands before crashing  into the water, according to a March 16 CNN report. 

Russia and the U.S. have had conflicts with each other for many years. However, this is the first time that Russian and U.S. military aircraft have come into direct physical contact since Moscow first launched its invasion of Ukraine. 

“I think tensions are already very high so this just adds to that tension,” history teacher Gary Colucci said. “I think luckily it was an unmanned aircraft and therefore there was no loss of an American life, which allows us to be the bigger country and keep pointing out the negative decisions made by Russia.”

Moscow and Washington have been in contact through military and diplomatic channels following the incident. Russia claimed to have no interest in escalation and wants military lines of communication in the crisis, CNN reported on March 16.

Both Russia and the U.S. are working to recover the drone from the Black Sea, but the U.S. may not be able to recover it given the deep water in that part of the sea. Ukrainian officials believe that incidents like this will continue to take place as long as Russia controls the Crimean peninsula, according to a Forbes March 16 report.