Update On 2023 Black Sea Drone Incident
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The US military’s European Command has released footage of the encounter between a US surveillance drone and Russian fighter jets over the Black Sea. The newly declassified video depicts critical moments of the mid-air encounter, which the Pentagon said lasted 30-40 minutes, in the video published on March 16, 2023, by CNN, as “See moment Russian fighter jet confronts US drone“, below:
To refresh 2023 Black Sea Drone Incident, let’s take a look at the excerpt from wikipedia, in italics, below:
On the morning of 14 March 2023, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet intercepted and damaged an American MQ-9 Reaper drone, causing it to crash into the Black Sea. This marks the first direct contact between the Russian and United States Air Forces since the Cold War.
The US Air Force called this “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional”. The Russian Defense Ministry said no aircraft touched and no weapons were used.
On the early morning of 14 March 2023, an MQ-9 Reaper drone belonging to the United States Air Force departed from a base in Romania, likely the Romanian Air Force 71st Air Base located in Câmpia Turzii. The drone was scheduled to conduct a routine reconnaissance mission over the Black Sea when it was intercepted by two Russian fighter jets.
This event occurred amidst heightened tensions between Russia and the United States, with the Biden administration imposing sanctions and working to isolate Moscow in response to the Russo-Ukrainian War. The US Defense Department’s spokesman, Brigadier General Pat Ryder, remarked that intercepts of aircraft are not uncommon and that the Russian jets were likely conducting a routine check of the situation.
United States European Command said that the US MQ-9 Reaper drone was flying over international waters in the Black Sea escorted by two Russian aircraft when one of the aircraft flew in front of the drone and dumped fuel on top of it. Then one of the planes damaged the drone’s propeller, forcing it to ditch in the Black Sea. The incident happened at about 7:03 am local time. On several occasions before the collision, Russian fighters dumped fuel on the MQ-9 —possibly in an attempt to blind or damage it— and flew in front of the unmanned aerial vehicle in unsafe maneuvers, the U.S. military said.
Ryder said the drone was “well away” from Ukrainian territory, but he did not give an exact location. Ukraine has said that it crashed off Snake Island; General Mark Milley stated that the drone crashed in an area of the Black Sea that was as deep as 1,500 meters (5,000 ft), making recovery difficult and implying that the location was not anywhere near Snake Island. After its propeller was damaged, the drone flew as a glider while descending over the Black Sea, crashing in international waters southwest of Crimea. While in flight, the drone’s software was wiped to avoid capture.
Ryder declined to speak about U.S. efforts to retrieve the aircraft but noted that Russia had not recovered it. A day later, John Kirby said it may never be recovered, while Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev stated that Russia would attempt to recover the craft. Recovery by the U.S. is complicated not just by the depth of the waters but also by the lack of naval assets in the region. By Wednesday night (EDT), unnamed U.S. officials told ABC News that Russian ships had arrived at the crash site and may have likely picked up pieces of the wreckage. John Kirby did not confirm this, but said that the US had “made it impossible for them to be able to glean anything of intelligence value off the remnants of that drone”.
According to US officials, the order to harass the drone was given by the Russian Ministry of Defense, and that the pilots were not taking rogue action.
According to National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby, President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday morning.
US Army General Christopher Cavoli, NATO‘s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, briefed NATO allies on the incident. The downing of the drone was strongly condemned by the White House and the Pentagon, who warned of the risk of escalation.
The Russian ambassador to the United States was summoned to the Department of State in connection with the incident. The US released video of the incident.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its fighter jets did not make contact with the US drone, claiming instead that the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) crashed due to “harsh maneuvering”. “The Russian fighters did not use their airborne weapons, did not make contact with the drone, and returned safely to their home airfield”, the defense ministry said.
Russian ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said, “We view this incident as a provocation” after being summoned to a meeting with State Department officials, according to Reuters.
The United States erased sensitive software on the MQ-9 Reaper drone remotely before it crashed into the Black Sea to prevent Russia from collecting secret information, according to two US officials, in the video published on March 15, 2023, by CNN, as “Hear what US did to drone before it crashed into Black Sea“, below:
An unmanned U.S. drone crashed into the Black Sea on Tuesday after being pursued by Russian fighter jets. It’s the most serious incident involving the two military powers since the Ukraine war began. The Pentagon has now released a video showing the Russian jet dumping fuel on the drone to obstruct its views. So, is this a one-off incident or a more serious escalation? In the video published on March 16, 2023, by Al Jazeera English, as “What are the implications of U.S. drone downing over Black Sea?| Inside Story“, below:
Russian naval crew has arrived at the crash site in the Black Sea where Russians forced down a US drone, sources say. CNN’s Oren Liebermann reports, and White House official John Kirby weighs in in the video published on March 15, 2023, by CNN, as “Russians reportedly arrive at site of US drone crash in Black Sea“, below:
Col. Cedric Leighton (Ret.) explains the capabilities of the MQ-9 Reaper drone and the importance of the recovery of the device after a Russian fighter jet forced down the US Air Force drone over the Black Sea, in the video published on March 15, 2023, by CNN, as “Retired col. explains how US can prevent Russia from gathering intel from drone“, below:
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