Sen. Mark Kelly flew with Russian pilots in the Navy and with NASA, and he said the Russian fighter jet running into a US drone shows 'how incompetent they are'

mark kelly has a skeptical expression wearing a us navy bomber jacket
Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., waits to speak during a news conference at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix, on Nov. 7, 2022.AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File
  • A US drone crashed after a Russian fighter jet clipped its propeller over the Black Sea last week.

  • A think tank suggested the move was "aggressive messaging" by Russia.

  • Sen. Mark Kelly, a former Navy combat pilot, said it was an example of Russia's incompetence.

Sen. Mark Kelly flew with Russian pilots as a US Navy combat pilot and as a NASA astronaut.

He said the incident last week where a Russian fighter jet dumped fuel on and then clipped the propeller of a US military drone shows how "reckless" and "incompetent" they are.

"I'm not surprised by this. I mean, I flew with Russian pilots, fighter pilots who couldn't fly formation. And I watched this video, and it's pretty obvious what happened. He lost sight of it, and he crashed into it," Kelly told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" Sunday.

—CNN (@CNN) March 19, 2023

On Tuesday, two Russian Su-27 fighter jets intercepted a US military MQ-9 Reaper drone that was flying over international waters above the Black Sea. The jets dumped fuel on the drone, and one jet eventually clipped the drone's propeller. The drone eventually crashed into the water.

Watch: How a Russian warplane hit an unarmed US drone

Insider previously reported that while one think tank analysis suggested this was aggressive messaging by Russia, US officials have said the incident was most likely due to Russians not knowing how to fly.

The incident further soured the tense relationship between Washington and the Kremlin since Russia invaded Ukraine last February.

Kelly compared the fighter jet incident to the "incompetence that we see on the battle field every day in Ukraine."

"That's why the losses that the Russians are suffering right now are really high. At this point I mean, the best choice for Vladimir Putin would be to say: 'Hey, this isn't working,' and he's got to stop this illegal invasion," Kelly said.

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