US Surveillance Drone Recovery Difficult At Crash Site

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Recovery of a US surveillance drone that crashed after being intercepted by Russian fighter jets would be challenging given the deep waters in the Black Sea, a senior United States general said, as reports emerged of Russian vessels at the crash site.

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said “remains of the uncrewed MQ-9 Reaper drone, which the US claims was brought down by one of two Russian Su-27 jets clipping the drone’s propeller,” sank in waters as deep as 1,219 to 1,524 meters, 4,000 to 5,000 feet.

“It probably sank to some significant depths, so any recovery operation from a technical standpoint would be very difficult,” Milley told reporters on Wednesday. Milley added it would take several days before the US would know for certain the size of the debris field.

Moscow – which ‘denies’ that its jets were in physical contact with the drone – said it would try to retrieve the drone wreckage as reports emerged on Thursday of US officials confirming that Russian ships had reached the crash site.

ABC News senior Pentagon reporter, Luis Martinez tweeted that two US officials had confirmed the presence of Russian ships at the location of the crash in the Black Sea.

The Black Sea borders both Russia and Ukraine.

Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev told the Rossiya-1 TV channel on Wednesday that Russia would attempt a recovery operation for the US spy drone.

“I don’t know whether we will be able to retrieve it or not but it has to be done. And we’ll certainly work on it. I hope, of course, successfully,” he said.

Milley said the US had taken measures to ensure there would be no loss of sensitive intelligence if the drone were to be salvaged by Russia.

Aljazeera/Shakirat Sadiq

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