MQ-9 Reaper found, but who is going to get it?

Russia and USA fight over the crashed MQ-9 Reaper

The Americans are trying to prevent Russian specialists from obtaining the wreckage of the MQ-9 Reaper drone that crashed over the Black Sea. Judging by official statements, the fallen MQ-9 Reaper drone is resting at a depth of about 1,500 meters.

Experts believe that it was not an old Reaper that crashed near Sevastopol, but the top-end MQ-9 Reaper Block 5. Therefore, Russia has a great opportunity to obtain the latest modification of the US drone with all of its software and updated intelligence modules.

This information will be of interest not only to Moscow, but also to Beijing and Tehran — China and Iran also design and build combat and reconnaissance drones. In a similar situation in Africa, the US military decided to destroy a $50 million-worth UAV just to make sure it didn't fall into the wrong hands.

Russia is interested in the following:

  • New technologies for internal combustion engine that ensures long and fast flights;
  • Composite skin materials (they have already been recovered). Russia could use the technology for its own UAVs and aircraft;
  • Electronic equipment that Russia could copy or give to China for reverse engineering), especially control and communications systems;
  • Satellite and other communications systems in order to understand how to jam drones like MQ-9 Reaper;
  • Software. US officials announced that they have deleted all the sensitive data, but it is believed that it is very hard to do it within mere seconds as the drone was falling into the sea.

In order to prevent the recovery of the wreckage of the Reaper that crashed near the Crimea, the United States has several options.

Of course, one may try to contact Turkey to negotiate the passage of some of the warships of the 6th Fleet of the US Navy from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. In other words, one could try to suspend the Montreux Convention.

The emergence of a couple of US Arleigh Burke type destroyers with Tomahawks near the search and rescue area would make the Russian military worry (there were such incidents in the past, during the times of the USSR). However, even a slight confrontation would trigger WWIII instantly.

Russian military expert and journalist Ilya Kramnik believes that there are only four who-gets-the Reaper options.

Russia, Turkey, Bulgaria or Romania (options 1,2,3) have the technology to raise the wreckage of the US drone (Bulgaria and Romania could do it if they receive the necessary equipment from "senior comrades".

A civil diving vessel of any arbitrary nation (option 4) with the appropriate equipment on board that can pass the straits would also be able to do it.

"Any option will mean a certain level of compromise, and in these conditions, it seems to me that the most likely option is either "the parties have not agreed, and we are raising the wreckage ourselves", or the option "a certain result of the negotiations has been reached, and a civilian ship outfitted with deep-sea equipment is collecting the debris,"" the expert believes.

According to CNN, the drone is just a piece of metal, and its drowning demonstrated USA's determination to keep on flying its aircraft in the region. The Russian Federation already warned that the response would be "proportionate", and any attack on a Russian aircraft would mean a declaration of war on a nuclear power.

US journalists also recalled that in the days of the USSR, US pilots had fought with Soviet instructors over Vietnam, albeit covertly. Paulus' U-2 was shot down "in public", then "no one spoke about the USSR destroying 40 more US pilots."

Noteworthy, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu pointed out in a conversation with Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin that the US drone crashed into the Black Sea due to America's non-compliance with the flight restriction zone declared by the Russian Federation.

The United States also initiated a phone call between the head of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.

So who gets the Reaper?

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Author`s name Alexander Shtorm
Editor Dmitry Sudakov