The US authorities believe Russia has recovered pieces of fibreglass or small bits of the MQ-9 Reaper drone recently forced down over the Black Sea after a collision with a Russian Su-27 fighter, a US official familiar with the matter told CNN.
“We made it impossible for them to be able to glean anything of intelligence value off the remnants of that drone, whatever remnants there might be on the surface of the water,” John Kirby, the National Security Council strategic communications coordinator, told CNN on Wednesday. After the collision between the US drone and the Russian fighter jets early Tuesday morning, the drone operators took steps to erase the sensitive software of the drone before it fell into the Black Sea, he says.
Crimean media outlet ForPost cited a source close to Russia’s Defence Ministry yesterday, saying that the drone’s debris was retrieved from the seabed near Sevastopol from the depth of 900 metres. Russia’s fleet is present in the area.
Russia’s Su-27 fighter jet and a US drone collided over the Black Sea on 14 March. “Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” said US Air Force General James Hecker. According to him, US and allied aircraft will continue to fly in international airspace in accordance with international laws.
Russia’s Defence Ministry claims “the Russian aircraft did not use on-board weapons, did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle, and returned safely to their home airfield.”