Russia media claims Kremlin forces found downed US drone in Black Sea

Has Putin won the race to find downed US drone? Russian media claims Kremlin forces have detected Reaper 2,953 ft down in the Black Sea after it was attacked by SU-27

  • Tensions rising between Russia and the US after clash between jet and drone
  • US had to pull the Reaper drone down over international waters in the Black Sea 

Kremlin forces are reported to have found the downed US MQ-9 Reaper drone at a depth of up to 2,953ft in the Black Sea off the major naval port of Sevastopol, according to Russian media.

A source close to the Russian defence ministry reportedly told ForPost, a publication in annexed Crimea: ‘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.’

The report said that Russian naval forces are ‘on duty in the area where the US military reconnaissance vehicle fell’.

A day earlier there were claims from Russian sources in leaked radio transmissions that some debris from the American drone had been found on the surface.

There was no official confirmation of the ForPost claim.

It is unclear how long a Russian salvage operation might take to raise the downed drone. 

Released footage shows the moment a Russian fighter dumped fuel on an American drone

Russian media claimed that Kremlin forces had found the downed US drone near the port

Officials familiar with U.S. intelligence on the incident that led to the downing of a U.S. Reaper drone said the ‘highest levels’ at the Kremlin approved the ‘aggressive’ Russian intercept over the Black Sea

Earlier today, newly-declassified Pentagon footage showed the moment a Russian fighter jet crashed into a US MQ-9 Reaper drone in international airspace over the Black Sea.

The crash is the first direct confrontation between Russia and the US since the start of the war in Ukraine. 

Russia had previously claimed it had not made contact with the drone after the UAV was forced down over international waters on 14 March.

But the new footage appeared to show the Su-27 clip the propeller of the drone after flying overhead and jettisoning fuel.

Onboard camera footage showed damage to the drone before it crashed into the Black Sea.

Moscow had said it would work to retrieve the wreckage in what would be a propaganda coup for Vladimir Putin, after earlier warning that it will ‘consider any action with US weaponry as openly hostile’.

US officials also made assurances that measures had been taken to ensure no information could be recovered by foreign actors from the remains of the drone.

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said: ‘As far as the loss of anything sensitive … intelligence etc … as normal we would take — and we did take mitigating measures — so we are quite confident that whatever was of value is no longer of value.’

After the release of the new footage, Tories warned there must be ‘consequences’ for the Russian fighter jet attack on a US drone – amid a race to salvage the debris.

Defence committee chair Tobias Ellwood said the ‘incredible’ incident was an example of how quickly tensions can escalate.

Mr Ellwood told the Express: ‘This incident illustrates how drone warfare is altering the character of conflict. 

‘Russia would not have dumped fuel if the plane had been manned.’

He added: ‘This was a blatant attack over international airspace and should not pass without consequences.’ 

The newly-declassified clip shared today shows the unmanned drone come into contact with a Russian jet after flying ‘in the vicinity’ of the aircraft for 30 to 40 minutes just after 7am CET (6am GMT) on Tuesday.

The sequential video, edited by the US military for length, shows one of two Russian jets flying over international waters pull up on the drone, approaching from behind.

According to US officials the MQ-9 Reaper drone was intercepted by two Russian Su-27 jets that dumped fuel on top of the drone before clipping its propeller, forcing it to crash

The $32million US Reaper drone taken out of the sky by Russia

An American MQ-9 Reaper drone (left) and a Russian Su-27 fighter jet (right)

Video shows the Russian fighter approaching the American drone from behind and beginning to release fuel as it passes – the Pentagon said

The plane begins to dump fuel on the drone before the camera suffers damage 

The drone’s camera stabilizes after the SU-27 passes overhead, clipping its propeller

After the clash, the onboard camera shows a broken propeller (L) and a comparative operational propeller (R) turning. Russia previously said it did not make contact with the drone

The jet is shown to dump fuel as it passes. Fuel dumping is usually used by aircraft in emergency situations to lose weight.

The drone’s camera suffers damage before it is forced to make an emergency landing in international waters below.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby slammed Russia’s actions as reckless and dangerous.

But the Russian defense ministry pushed back, saying in a statement, ‘Russian fighters did not use airborne weapons and did not come into contact with the American drone.

‘Due to sharp maneuvering, the American drone went into uncontrolled flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface.’

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