Russia awarded the Su-27 fighter jet pilot who intercepted the United States’ MQ-9 Reaper drone. The Pentagon said the intercept caused the MQ-9 Reaper drone to crash into the Black Sea. BBC photos/screenshots
MOSCOW – Pilots of two Moscow Su-27 fighter jets that intercepted the MQ-9 Reaper drone United States of America (USA) over the Black Sea was rewarded by the Minister of Defense Russia Sergei Shoigu, Friday (17/3/2023). It was this tense intercept, according to the Americans, that caused the MQ-9 to crash.
“Russian Minister of Defense General Sergei Shoigu awarded the state award to the pilot of the Su-27 aircraft who prevented the US MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle from violating the restricted flight zone established by Moscow in the midst of the Ukrainian conflict,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. reported by Sputnik.
The advanced American spy drone crashed into the Black Sea last Tuesday morning after being intercepted by a Russian Su-27 fighter jet in the first known direct military encounter between Moscow and Washington since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago.
Announcing the award, Russia’s Defense Ministry repeated Moscow’s version of the incident, which Washington denies, that the Russian aircraft did not make physical contact with the drone.
“As a result of a sharp maneuver at around 09:30 am (Moscow time), the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle flew out of control with a loss of altitude and collided with the surface of the water,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
According to the ministry, the American MQ-9 drone was flying with its transponder turned off and violated the airspace limits that Russia had announced in connection with a special military operation in Ukraine.
However, the US military version stated that two Russian Su-27 fighter jets approached the MQ-9 Reaper drone during a reconnaissance mission over the Black Sea in international airspace. It said the two fighter jets interfered with the MQ-9 drone spraying fuel on it in an encounter that lasted 30-40 minutes before one of them hit the drone’s propeller, causing it to crash into the sea.
The Pentagon on Thursday released a 40-second video showing the incident. The US military said the incident demonstrated Moscow’s increasingly aggressive behavior.
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