Has Putin won the race to find the US drone? Russian media claim that Kremlin forces found downed MQ-9
According to Russian media, Kremlin forces allegedly found the downed US MQ-9 Reaper drone at a depth of up to 953 feet in the Black Sea off the main naval port of Sevastopol.
A source close to the Russian Defense Ministry reportedly told ForPost, a publication in annexed Crimea, “An underwater robot descended to the seabed and detected the MQ-9 Reaper at a depth of about 850-900 meters.
“The deepwater branch of the South Stream gas pipeline runs not far from this area.”
The report said Russian naval forces are “on duty in the area where the US military reconnaissance vehicle fell.”
A day earlier, there were claims from Russian sources in leaked radio broadcasts that some debris from the US drone had been found on the surface.
There was no official confirmation of the ForPost claim.
It is unclear how long a Russian salvage operation could take to recover the crashed drone.
Released footage shows the moment a Russian fighter jet dumped fuel on a US drone
Russian media claimed that Kremlin forces found the downed US drone near the port
Officials familiar with US intelligence about the incident that led to the downing of a US Reaper drone said the “highest levels” in the Kremlin approved the “aggressive” Russian interception over the Black Sea.
Earlier today, newly released Pentagon footage showed the moment a Russian fighter jet crashed into a US MQ-9 Reaper drone in international airspace over the Black Sea.
The crash is the first direct confrontation between Russia and the US since the war in Ukraine began.
Russia had previously claimed it failed to make contact with the drone after the UAV crashed over international waters on March 14.
But the new footage appeared to show that the Su-27 jammed the drone’s propeller after flying overhead and jetting fuel overboard.
Camera footage on board showed damage to the drone before it crashed into the Black Sea.
Moscow had said it would work to retrieve the wreckage in what would be a propaganda coup for Vladimir Putin, after previous warnings it “will view any action with US weapons as openly hostile.”
US officials also assured that steps had been taken to ensure no information could be extracted from the drone’s remains by foreign actors.
US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said: “As for the loss of something sensitive … intelligence etc. … as usual we would take – and we have taken mitigating measures – so we are pretty sure of whatever was of value is no longer of value.’
After the release of the new footage, the Tories warned there must be “consequences” for a Russian fighter jet’s attack on a US drone – amid a race to recover the debris.
Defense Commission Chairman Tobias Ellwood said the “incredible” incident was an example of how quickly tensions can escalate.
Mr Ellwood told the Express: “This incident illustrates how drone warfare is changing the nature of conflicts.
“Russia would not have dumped fuel if the plane had been manned.”
He added: “This was a blatant attack on international airspace and should not go without consequences.”
The recently released clip shared today shows the unmanned drone coming into contact with a Russian jet after flying ‘in the vicinity’ of the plane for 30 to 40 minutes on Tuesday, just after 07:00 CET (6:00 GMT) .
The sequential video, edited for length by the US military, shows one of two Russian jets flying over international waters, pulling the drone up and approaching from behind.
According to US officials, the MQ-9 Reaper drone was intercepted by two Russian Su-27 jets that dumped fuel on the drone before clipping the propeller and forcing it to crash
The $32 million US Reaper drone has been taken down by Russia
An American MQ-9 Reaper drone (left) and a Russian Su-27 fighter jet (right)
Video shows the Russian fighter approaching the US drone from behind and beginning to release fuel as it passes, the Pentagon said
The plane begins dumping fuel on the drone before the camera takes damage
The drone’s camera stabilizes after the SU-27 passed overhead and clipped its propeller
After the impact, the on-board camera shows a broken propeller (L) and a similar working propeller (R) spinning. Russia previously said it has not made contact with the drone
The jet is shown dumping fuel as it passes. Dumping fuel is usually used by aircraft in emergency situations to lose weight.
The drone’s camera takes damage before it is forced to crash-land in international waters below.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby called Russia’s actions reckless and dangerous.
But Russia’s Defense Ministry resisted, saying in a statement: “Russian fighters did not use airborne weapons and did not interact with the US drone.
“Due to sharp maneuvering, the US drone went into an uncontrolled flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface.”