Russian forces are on the verge of starting a recovery attempt on a downed U.S. Air Force drone that crashed into the Black Sea this week, pro-Kremlin publishers claim.
An MQ-8 ‘Reaper’ drone was a “total loss” this week, the Pentagon said this week after it was rammed by a Russian jet, damaging its propeller and causing it to lose power. Despite the U.S. releasing footage of Russian jets harassing the drone by spraying jet fuel on it, and even colliding with the drone to damage it, Russia is still maintaining its position that the drone fell out of the air spontaneously and they were not responsible.
The Pentagon has released footage of what it says is a Russian aircraft dousing fuel on a U.S. Air Force surveillance drone and clipping the reconnaissance unmanned MQ-9’s propeller. The incident took place over the Black Sea, in international airspace. pic.twitter.com/ZaXfoB3JEh
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) March 16, 2023
Yet a race appears to be on to recover the remains of the unmanned vehicle, which may be valuable to Russia or its allies China and Iran for reverse-engineering technology, or if the data recording onboard didn’t successfully erase itself before it hit the water.
The United States poured cold water on the recovery on Wednesday, saying the water the drone would have landed on would be too deep. But as reported, Russia made a pretense, at least, at being willing to give it a go with one spokesman saying “I am hoping that it will be a success”.
Now reports from pro-Russian sources are making the claim they are reaching the drone and are nearly ready to attempt a recovery. Kremlin-linked source Sputnik asserted that Russian forces “may retrieve the US MQ-9 Reaper drone from the Black Sea, despite reports from Washington that the Pentagon has already erased all sensitive information from it”. They added that it was considered worth trying as nobody could be sure there was nothing valuable to be retrieved until someone had gone down to have a look.
The report from the propaganda outlet cited what they described as a “military expert” who said it was his understanding that a search ship had already reached the area and that it was likely that Russian “specialists” would be the first on the scene because the United States had no maritime assets in the area.
Russia Will Retrieve Wreckage of Crashed U.S. Drone, Spy Chief Claimshttps://t.co/H60HaDdYHL
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 15, 2023
Sputnik is not the only pro-Russian outlet to make such claims. Britain’s Daily Mail cites a newspaper in Russian-occupied Ukraine that reports the recovery is already underway and that the remains of the drone were discovered at a depth of 2,953ft beneath the surface of the Black Sea.
The report allegedly cites “A source close to the Russian defence ministry” who is said to have remarked: “An underwater robot has descended to the seabed and detected the MQ-9 Reaper at a depth of about 850-900 metres… The deep-water branch of the South Stream gas pipeline runs not far from this area.”
No evidence has been yet provided of the alleged recovery effort by Russian armed forces and the U.S. has not made further comment on the recovery process.
The claims in Russian media follow official remarks from the Kremlin on the recovery of the drone wreckage treating it as a priority. State wire service TASS cited government spokesman Dmitry Peskov who said specialists would raise the craft if deemed necessary.
“This is the prerogative of the military. If they deem it necessary to do that in the Black Sea for our interests and for our security, they will deal with that,” Peskov is reported to have said.
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