Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu awarded the Order of Courage to the pilots that ‘downed’ the US MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea.
Last week, the Russian Defense Ministry said a US MQ-9 drone plunged into the Black Sea after engaging in sharp maneuvering, noting that Russian fighter jets sent to intercept it did not come into contact with it nor used weapons against it.
The ministry said the air control of the Russian Aerospace Forces recorded the drone’s flight in the Crimean peninsula’s region in the direction of the Russian border.
The US European Command earlier said that the incident that resulted in the complete loss of the drone involved a Russian Su-27 aircraft, which allegedly struck the drone’s propeller during an “unsafe and unprofessional intercept” over the Black Sea.
“The Orders of Courage were awarded to the pilots of Su-27 aircraft who prevented the violation by the US unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-9 of the borders of the temporary regime for the use of airspace established to conduct the special military operation,” the statement said.
Russian Su-27 fighter jets maneuvered alongside an American MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea to stop it from performing its mission, fighter pilot Major Vasily Vavilov said in a video released by the Defense Ministry.
The fighter pilot said, together with his colleagues, he was on air defense duty. Having received the orders to scramble, two crew took to the air to intercept the drone moving near the Russian border.
“After the takeoff, we approached the aircraft, identified it, and performed maneuvers to force it to abandon its mission,” Vavilov said. In turn, Major Sergei Popov accentuated that the pilots did not use weapons and did not come into contact with the MQ-9.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the incident with the MQ-9 Reaper drone occurred on the morning of March 14 in the Crimean region. An American drone with transponders turned off flew in the direction of Russia.
After discovering the drone, Russian fighters from the duty air defense forces took off. The drone went into uncontrollable flight with a loss of altitude and fell into the black sea due to sudden maneuvering.
Russian fighters did not come into contact with the MQ-9, did not use airborne weapons, and returned safely to their base airfield, the Defense Ministry emphasized.
On March 15, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, in a telephone conversation with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin, among other things, said that the flights of American strategic Global Hawk drones off the coast of Crimea were provocative.
Shoigu also noted that the reason for the incident with the Reaper was the actions of the United States in non-compliance with the restricted flight zone declared by Russia.
- Via Agencies
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