U.S. spy drone crashes into sea after Russian intercept

STORY: An American MQ-9 "Reaper" surveillance drone was forced to crash into the Black Sea on Tuesday after two Russian fighter jets performed what the U.S. called a "reckless intercept."

Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder is the Pentagon press secretary:

"At approximately 7:03 AM Central European time, one of the Russian Su-27 struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters. Several times before the collision the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless and unprofessional manner. This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional."

It was the first such incident since Russia's invasion of Ukraine over a year ago, and drew condemnation from the White House and the Pentagon, which warned of the risk of escalation.

U.S. Army Genral Christopher Cavoli briefed NATO allies about the incident.

The U.S. Air Force said the drone was conducting an "intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance" or ISR mission.

The Pentagon noted the MQ-9 can carry weaponry, but declined to comment on whether this particular drone was armed.

The spokesperson would only say that the incident occurred in international airspace, and noted that the Russian jets involved did not leave the collision unscathed.

"We assess that it likely caused some damage to the Russian aircraft as well. To our knowledge, well, we know that the aircraft, the Russian aircraft did land. I'm not going to go into where they landed, but again, it's just demonstrative of very unprofessional, unsafe airmanship on the part of these pilots.

The U.S. military said the incident followed a pattern of dangerous behavior by Russian pilots operating near aircraft flown by the U.S. and its allies, including over the Black Sea.

The White House said the drone's downing was unique, however, and would be raised directly with Moscow.