- Drones are cheaper than planes with people on board that can do the same things, and they are safer for their operators because they don't need a pilot. General Atomics says that Air Force tests of the MQ-9 have shown that it can fire weapons at other planes.
- NASA and the air forces of the UK, Spain, and France have also bought MQ-9s. They have been used by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past. They are known for their accurate strikes, but their use has also been criticised because civilians have died because of them.
Russian jets are said to have shot down the US drone by spraying it with fuel and clipping its propeller. Russia has said that it is not to blame and instead blames the US for flying “deliberately and provocatively” close to Russian airspace.
In the first direct fight between the US and Russia during the Ukraine war, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet damaged the propeller of a US MQ-9 Reaper drone, according to the US military. The drone then crashed into the Black Sea on Tuesday. The US military has said that Russia is following a pattern of escalation, but Russian officials have denied that there was a role in the incident and questioned the drone’s presence in the area.
The defence ministers and military heads of the two countries talked on the phone the next day. This was one of the few times they had done so since the war began in February 2022.
So far, here’s what we know.
What caused the crash?
US drones have been known to do reconnaissance missions in and around Ukraine. The US says that the drone that was shot down was doing this in international airspace over the Black Sea, which is not controlled by any one country. A Russia has been wary of these movements, which have gotten bigger since Russia took over the Crimean peninsula next to the Black Sea in 2014.
The US military said that two Russian Su-27 fighter planes flew up to the MQ-9 Reaper drone and sprayed it with fuel before hitting its propeller and sending it into the water. The broken parts of the drone have not yet been found.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the US State Department, told MSNBC that Russia probably didn’t mean to do what they did. General Mark Milley, the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “The Russians have been acting a little bit more aggressively lately, and this seems to be a pattern.
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) March 14, 2023
Russia, on the other hand, says that there was no collision and that the drone crashed after making “sharp turns” and flying “deliberately and provocatively” close to Russian air space. It said that it didn’t want such a thing to happen, but that it would react in the future in the right way, and that the two countries should “act as responsibly as possible.”
“The Americans say over and over that they don’t take part in military operations. “This is the latest proof that they are directly involved in these activities, which are part of the war,” said Nikolai Patrushev, who is in charge of the Kremlin Security Council.
The MQ-9 Reaper is a type of drone.
The MQ-9 “Reaper” can go up to 50,000 feet and stay there for more than 27 hours while cameras, sensors, and radars gather information. On the website of the US Air Force, it says that it can also carry out precise strikes. It is 36 feet long and has 66-foot-long wings. It can move at 240 knots and can carry 3,900 pounds of fuel.
Drones are cheaper than planes with people on board that can do the same things, and they are safer for their operators because they don’t need a pilot. General Atomics says that Air Force tests of the MQ-9 have shown that it can fire weapons at other planes. It can also be fitted with a “Self Protect Pod” that can find threats and use countermeasures against surface-to-air weapons.
NASA and the air forces of the UK, Spain, and France have also bought MQ-9s. They have been used by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past. They are known for their accurate strikes, but their use has also been criticised because civilians have died because of them.