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USAF Reportedly Sent Another Spy Drone to MQ-9 Crash Site Shortly After Incident Over Black Sea

© AFP 2023 / LUDOVIC MARINA General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle drone.
A General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle drone. - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.03.2023
Earlier, during the blame game that erupted after an American MQ-9 Reaper drone was downed over the Black Sea near Crimea on 14 March, the US Air Force released declassified footage allegedly depicting the encounter. The video does not seem to substantiate previous US claims that the drone went down because of a collision with a Russian jet.
The US military sent another unmanned aerial vehicle, an MQ-9 Reaper drone - the same model as the one that crashed in the Black Sea on Tuesday - shortly after the incident, US media has reported. The UAV was reportedly dispatched in the hopes of examining the crash site and monitoring Russia's efforts to recover the wreckage, according to cited American officials.
Furthermore, the US is mulling another drone flight over the Black Sea in the coming days, the officials added, echoing earlier statements made by the US State Department, which declared that its drone missions in international airspace would continue.

'Risk Assessment'

At the same time, the incident has prompted the US to “take a close look” at its surveillance drone routes, and conduct a general assessment of its drone operations in the Black Sea area, according to the same US officials. The media report reveals that the Pentagon, together with its European Command, for all their brazen statements about continuing the drone missions, intends to analyze and weigh the pros and cons and whether such surveillance missions represent good value for money.
As part of this assessment, an attempt will purportedly be made to weigh the intelligence value of the particular route, and, accordingly, justify pushing ahead with surveillance flights in an area where further escalation with Russia is likely.
Although a number of American officials have insisted that the drone's operators had remotely wiped all sensitive information from it before it went down in the sea, US media reported on Wednesday that Russia had allegedly recovered some debris, including pieces of fiberglass or small bits of the UAV.
General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drone  - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.03.2023
USAF Released Video of Black Sea Drone Being Approached by Russian Jets
The US MQ-9 Reaper drone fell in the Black Sea after engaging in a sharp maneuvering as Russian fighter jets were scrambled to identify the aircraft flying in the direction of Crimea with its transponders turned off. The fact is, the US does not recognize Russia’s claim to Crimea, which was reunited with Russia in 2014. In a nationwide referendum held on 16 March that year, more than 95 percent of the voters in Crimea and Sevastopol were in favor of reunification with Russia after decades of severance. The US stance means that it does not recognize any claim regarding the establishment of no-fly zones by Russia in support of its ongoing military operations against Ukraine.
Referring to Tuesday's incident, the Russian Defense Ministry said an Su-27 fighter jet had been scrambled to follow an unidentified MQ-9 Reaper drone moving toward the Russian border. The US unmanned aerial vehicle fell in international waters in the Black Sea, off the coast of Crimea, as a result of engaging in sharp maneuvering. The Russian aircraft sent to intercept it did not come into contact with the drone, nor did they use weapons against it, the Russian Defense Ministry said. However, the US European Command claimed the Russian jet had struck the drone's propeller during an "unsafe and unprofessional intercept", which resulted in its fall.
A US Air Force Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle. File photo  - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.03.2023
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