According to Russian media, Kremlin forces found the downed US MQ-9 Reaper drone at a depth of up to 2,953 feet in the Black Sea off the main naval port of Sevastopol.
A source close to the Russian defense ministry reportedly told ForPost, an annexed Crimean publication: ‘An underwater robot descended to the bottom of the sea and detected the MQ-9 Reaper at a depth of approximately 850-900 meters.
The deepwater branch of the South Stream pipeline does not run far from this area.
The report says that Russian naval forces are “on duty in the area where the US military reconnaissance vehicle went down.”
A day earlier there were claims from Russian sources in leaked radio transmissions that some wreckage from the US drone had been found on the surface.
There was no official confirmation of ForPost’s claim.
It is unclear how long it might take a Russian rescue operation to lift the downed drone.
Released footage shows the moment a Russian fighter unloaded fuel onto a US drone
Officials familiar with US intelligence about the incident that led to the downing of a US Reaper drone said the “highest levels” in the Kremlin approved of the “aggressive” Russian interception over the Black Sea. One official said he had received no indication that it had reached President Vladimir Puti.
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 clash is the first direct confrontation between Russia and the United States since the start of the war in Ukraine.
Russia had previously claimed that it had not made contact with the drone after the UAV was forced to descend over international waters on March 14.
But the new footage appeared to show the clip of the Su-27 in the drone’s propeller after flying overhead and dumping fuel.
Images from the onboard camera showed damage to the drone before it crashed into the Black Sea.
Moscow had said it would work to recover the remains in what would be a propaganda coup for Vladimir Putin, after warning that it would “consider any action with American weapons as openly hostile.”
US officials also assured that measures had been taken to ensure that foreign actors could not recover information from the wreckage of the drone.
The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said: “As far as the loss of anything sensitive…intelligence, etc., we would take it as normal, and we take mitigation measures, for which we’re pretty sure whatever.” was of value is no longer of value.’
After the release of the new images, Tories warned that there must be “consequences” for a Russian warplane attacking an American drone, in the midst of a race to save the rubble.
Defense committee chairman Tobias Ellwood said the “unbelievable” incident was an example of how quickly tensions can escalate.
Ellwood told the Express: “This incident illustrates how drone warfare is altering the character of the conflict.
“Russia would not have dumped fuel if the plane had been manned.”
He added: “This was a flagrant attack on international airspace and it should not go without consequences.”
The recently declassified clip shared today shows the drone came into contact with a Russian plane after flying “in the vicinity” of the plane for 30 to 40 minutes just after 7am CET (6am GMT) on Tuesday.
Time-lapse video, edited by the US military, shows one of two Russian planes flying over international waters stop at the drone and approach from behind.
According to US officials, the MQ-9 Reaper drone was intercepted by two Russian Su-27 jets that dumped fuel on the drone before cutting off its propeller, forcing it to crash.
The $32 million Reaper drone taken out of the sky by Russia
An American MQ-9 Reaper drone (left) and a Russian Su-27 fighter jet (right)
The video shows the Russian fighter approaching the US drone from behind and beginning to release fuel as it passed, the Pentagon said.
The plane starts dumping fuel at the drone before the camera is damaged
The drone’s camera stabilizes after the SU-27 passes overhead, clipping its propeller.
After the crash, the onboard camera shows a broken propeller (L) and a comparative operational propeller (R) spinning. Russia previously said it did not make contact with the drone.
The jet is shown to spew fuel as it passes by. Aircraft often use fuel dumping in emergency situations to lose weight.
The drone’s camera is damaged before being forced to make an emergency landing in international waters.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby criticized Russia’s actions as reckless and dangerous.
But the Russian Defense Ministry responded, saying in a statement: “The Russian fighters did not use airborne weapons and did not come into contact with the American drone.”
“Due to sudden maneuvers, the US drone entered an uncontrolled flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the surface of the water.”