The US drone and the Russian fighter jet collided in the early hours of September 17, 2018, in the skies over the Black Sea. The collision led to the loss of the US Navy’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The US drone was a Northrop Grumman MQ-9 Reaper, a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for aerial reconnaissance, surveillance, and precision strikes. It is powered by a 900-horsepower turboprop engine, has a 66-foot wingspan and can reach speeds of up to 300 mph.
The Russian fighter jet involved was a Sukhoi Su-27. It is a twin-engine, single-seat, all-weather, long-range air superiority fighter jet. It has a maximum speed of Mach 2.35 (1,517 mph) and is armed with one 30mm cannon, a range of air-to-air missiles, and air-to-ground missiles and bombs.
The cause of the collision is still under investigation. However, it is believed that the two aircraft were operating in close proximity at the time of the incident, and that the US drone may have been flying too close to the Russian fighter jet.
The incident was the first recorded mid-air collision between American and Russian military aircraft since the end of the Cold War, and highlights the potential for further incidents as the two countries increasingly interact in the skies.