MOSCOW, March 22. /TASS/. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu bestowed Orders of Courage on the Su-27 pilots for intercepting a US spy drone over the Black Sea, the Defense Ministry reported on Wednesday.
At a meeting with military commanders, Shoigu bestowed Gold Star medals and Orders of Courage on the Russian service members who had displayed heroism in the special military operation in Ukraine, the ministry said.
"In addition, the Orders of Courage were bestowed on the pilots of Su-27 planes who prevented an American MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle from violating the airspace temporarily restricted for flights for the purposes of the special military operation," the statement reads.
As Russia’s Defense Ministry reported earlier, the Russian Aerospace Forces’ airspace control capabilities spotted a flight by a US MQ-9 drone near the Crimean Peninsula on March 14. As the ministry explained, the American reconnaissance drone flew with its transponders switched off towards the Russian border and intruded into the area covered "by the temporary regime for the airspace use established for the purposes of the special military operation [in Ukraine] and brought to the notice of all international airspace users and published in accordance with international norms."
The US drone lost control "as a result of an abrupt maneuver" and crashed into the Black Sea waters while the Russian fighter jets scrambled to intercept the intruder did not employ their onboard armaments and did not enter into contract with the UAV, the ministry specified.
According to the US version, two Russian Su-27 fighter jets intercepted the MQ-9 reconnaissance drone over the Black Sea. Finally, as Washington claims, one of the fighters struck the drone’s propeller, causing it to crash.