Crashed Drone Was Flying With Transponders Off Towards Russian Border

A major incident involving a US military drone is being widely reported as happening over the Black Sea on Tuesday, with NATO sources telling AFP there’s been an “incident” and that an investigation is ongoing. Western military sources identified that a US-made Reaper drone may have crashed for as yet unknown reasons:

“Something happened but we don’t have confirmation that the drone has been shot down. An investigation is underway,” one of two Western sources who confirmed “an incident” told AFP.

After nearly two hours since the story first broke in international press, the Kremlin has issued its version of events concerning the US drone crash in the Black Sea Tuesday. The Russian Defense Ministry said nothing about the Pentagon’s allegations that a Russian Su-27 aircraft dumped fuel on the MQ-9 drone, but instead blamed the pair of Russian jets’ erratic maneuvering for the collision.

“US drone MQ-9 fell into the Black Sea on Tuesday morning due to its own sharp maneuvering, Russian fighters did not come into contact with it and did not use weapons, the Russian Defense Ministry said,” according to Russian media. The statement is as follows:

“As a result of sharp maneuvering around 09:30 Moscow time [06:30 GMT], unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-9 went into an uncontrolled flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface. The Russian fighters did not use airborne weapons, did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle and returned safely to their home airfield” the ministry said.

The Russian fighters had been scrambled in response to the drone being picked up on radar: “The ministry clarified that on the morning of March 14, the airspace control of the Russian Aerospace Forces had recorded the flight of US unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-9 over the Black Sea in the region of the Crimean peninsula in the direction of the Russian state border.” However, the ministry further noted that the UAV had been flying with its transponders turned off while headed towards Russia’s border.

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