The United States says a drone that crashed into the Black Sea after colliding with two Russian fighter jets will not provide intelligence of any value if Moscow tries to recover its wreckage.
Russian officials said they would try to find what was left of it The MQ-9 Reaper that crashed on Tuesday.
The head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, Sergey Naryshkin, said his country has the technological capability to recover the wreckage of a drone believed to be off the western coast of Crimea.
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US officials believe that Russia has already sent ships to the area.
At a Pentagon press conference, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, was relaxed about the possibility of finding the $32 million drone.
He said. “We will work through recovery operations. It is a US property. But it probably collapsed. Honestly, there probably isn’t much to recovery.
“As far as the loss of anything sensitive intelligence and so on…we would take, and we did take, mitigating measures. So we’re pretty sure that what was value no longer has value.”
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National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. would “take steps to protect the information” and “minimize any other efforts to use that drone for useful content.”
While officials would not disclose how they would protect the Reaper, the US military has previously acknowledged that it can remotely remove sensitive information from the drone and disable its systems.
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The United States said it abandoned a surveillance drone at sea after a Russian Su-27 fighter jet refueled it and then hit its propeller while flying in international airspace. US officials are working to declassify drone surveillance footage to prove it.
Russia has denied it caused the crash, which led to one of the most serious escalations between the two nations in years.