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Friday, March 31, 2023

Russia will try to recover downed US drone: Kremlin

According to state media, Russia will try to locate and recover the remains of a downed US military drone in the Black Sea.

Nikolai Patrushev, who heads Russia’s Security Council, said he wasn’t sure Russian forces would be able to retrieve the drone, but “we have to do this,” according to state media outlet RIA Novosti.

Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, also told the US that Russia will “continue to monitor the equipment and areas of greatest interest,” the state media report added.

At 7:03 a.m. ET Tuesday, a US MQ-9 Reaper drone was struck by a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea, the US military said.

US European Command said in a statement that Russian Su-27 fighter jets behaved “recklessly, pollutingly and unprofessionally” before the collision.

“This incident shows a lack of competence and is not only unsafe and unprofessional,” he added.

Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said that because of the damage the drone sustained, “we were in a position to basically have to dump it into the Black Sea.” The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) became “uncontrollable” and US forces “took it off,” he added.

On Tuesday, the White House said it had “taken steps” to recover the remains of the destroyed drone. The US does not want the UAV “to fall into the hands of anyone but us,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CNN.

The drone was “intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft,” resulting in “the crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” U.S. Air Force Gen. James Hecker said. However, Russia’s Defense Ministry denied that the Su-27 aircraft “came into contact” with the UAV, saying the drone’s loss was “the result of sharp maneuvering.”

“The MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle went into uncontrolled flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface,” the ministry said in a statement. “The Russian fighters did not deploy any air forces, did not come into contact with the UAV and returned safely to their base airfield.”

“Obviously we’re refuting the Russians’ denials,” Kirby said.

Writing on Twitter, former US Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said he was “concerned” that Russian forces were “best positioned” to get to the drone and “exploit” the technology.

However, James Rogers, a war historian specializing in drones and a NATO advisor, previously said news week that most of the data collected by the “advanced” drone will not be stored on board the UAV to prevent data leakage.

However, it “will be of interest to Russia,” he said.

Although the MQ-9 Reaper is an “advanced” drone with capabilities that “will be of interest to Russia,” a rush from Moscow to recover the remains of the UAV is “unlikely.”

Now “routine” drone patrols in the region are likely to pick up again in the wake of the incident, with the MQ-9 Reaper in particular predicting “a joint presence in international airspace over the Black Sea,” he predicted.

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