Russian Su-27 fighter jets intercepted and forced down an American drone on Tuesday, causing the aircraft to crash into the Black Sea.

U.S. officials said that one of the two Russian aircraft collided with the uncrewed aircraft’s propeller after both jets dumped fuel on it.

“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” said General James B. Hecker, a senior official.

“In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash.”

This event signifies the first instance of direct engagement between Russian and US military aircraft since Russia commenced its invasion of Ukraine just over a year ago. It is probable that this occurrence will exacerbate tensions between the two nations, with the US Air Force characterising Russia’s actions as “unprofessional, environmentally unsound, and reckless.”

The United States has been deploying Reaper drones over the Black Sea for surveillance purposes for quite some time, dating back to before the war started. Capable of reaching altitudes of up to 50,000 feet, the Reaper drones possess sophisticated sensors and intelligence-gathering capabilities, making them well-suited for extended periods of reconnaissance.

As such, they are an ideal platform for tracking military movements on the battlefield and in the Black Sea.