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American MQ-9 drone hit by Russians over the Black Sea. What kind of machine is it, what capabilities does it have

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A Russian Su-27 fighter jet intercepted and crashed into a US MQ-9 Reaper drone in international airspace, causing it to be destroyed, the US European Command (EUCOM) said on Tuesday. What do we know about the machine that fell into the Black Sea.

On Tuesday, an MQ-9 Reaper on a reconnaissance mission in international airspace was intercepted by two Russian Su-27 fighters. Russian planes poured jet fuel on the American plane, then one of the fighters hit the engine of the Reaper.


American operators were forced to direct the drone into the sea, the machine was irretrievably lost, the European Armed Forces Command said in a statement USA (EUCOM).

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The MQ-9 Reaper is a reconnaissance drone

MQ-9 Reaper are reconnaissance machines, but they can also carry weapons and perform combat missions. The drone weighs 2.2 tons, has a range of up to 2.5 thousand kilometers, and can stay in the air for over a day. The American troops stationed in Poland have them. Reapers are also used by the Polish Armed Forces.

The MQ-9 Reaper drones entered service in 2007. Their wingspan is 20 meters, length 11 meters, height 3.8 meters, the US Air Force informs on its website. The machine weighs 2.2 tons and can carry 1.7 tons of armament. The range of the Reapers is, depending on the version, from 1850 to 2500 kilometers. Their maximum speed is over 440 kilometers per hour, and the ceiling – 15 kilometers. Drones of this type can hover in the air for more than 24 hours.

The first task of machines of this type are reconnaissance and reconnaissance missions, but Reapers can also be used for precise combat tasks, including attacks on moving targets, the US Air Force notes. Controlled from the ground by two pilots, the drones can be armed with AGM-114 Hellfire guided air-to-surface missiles or GBU aerial bombs, among others. The machine is powered by a 900 horsepower turboprop engine.

MQ-9 Reaper capable of conducting combat missions

The US Air Force Special Operations Command has 50 of these machines. Some of them, from the 2nd Detachment of the 52nd Expeditionary Task Force of the American Air Force, operate from the 12th Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Base of the Polish Air Force in Mirosławiec in north-western Poland. The unit reached operational capability in March 2019.

The Polish Air Force also uses Reapers. As announced on February 12, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of National Defense Mariusz Blaszczak, unmanned aerial vehicles of this type, leased from the US as part of an urgent operational need, came to Poland. He added that the task of the machines is, among other things, to conduct reconnaissance missions on the eastern border of Poland.

MQ-9 drones were used by the US, among others, during missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The attacks carried out by these machines killed, among others, General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed at the airport in Baghdad, leading the Al Quds units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Abdul Hamid al-Matar, one of the leaders of al-Qaeda.

Main photo source: US AIR FORCE/PAP/EPA

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