- The Pentagon said that the Russian pilots were flying recklessly because one of the jets hit the unmanned plane's propeller, which caused it to crash.
- CNN said that the new drone routes kept the flights more than 40 nautical miles away from both Crimea and the coast of Ukraine.
A senior US military official has said that the decision by President Joe Biden’s administration to reroute drone flights over the Black Sea to avoid a direct conflict with Russian forces has made it harder to get information about the situation in Ukraine.
After a Russian jet hit a US surveillance drone earlier this month, the US moved its drones further south over the Black Sea. A senior US military official has said that this “definitely limits our ability to gather intelligence” about the Ukraine war.
A senior official said that flying drones farther away from the conflict zone and at higher altitudes has hurt the quality of the intelligence they can gather. The official did not say who the source was.
A Russian Sukhol Su-27 fighter jet shot down a US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea on March 14. The new route was reportedly ordered earlier this month.
Russian complaints about the drone flight were publicly ignored by the Pentagon, which said that the US will continue to “fly and operate wherever international law allows.” However, Washington started sending its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) further south, keeping them further away from the Crimean peninsula and the eastern parts of the Black Sea.
Another US official the change was made to “avoid being too provocative.” But the news source said that there is already “a desire” to get the UAVs flying again closer to Crimea.
A Pentagon spokesman wouldn’t say how, if at all, the situation has changed the quality of intelligence gathering in the Black Sea.
“We won’t talk about missions, routes, or when operations will happen. “We’re also not going to talk about intelligence operations, other than to say that we have a strong ISR capability in the region and beyond,” Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman
A National Security Council spokesperson said that questions should be sent to the Pentagon.
Flying without care
The Pentagon said that the Russian pilots were flying recklessly because one of the jets hit the unmanned plane’s propeller, which caused it to crash.
But the footage that was supposed to have been taken by the drone only showed a Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet buzzing over it and supposedly spitting out fuel. Russia said the US plane was flying with its transponder turned off in a no-fly zone set up by the Russian military. Russia said it didn’t hit the drone or use weapons against it.
The new drone routes kept the flights more than 40 nautical miles away from both Crimea and the coast of Ukraine. Normally, the limit of a country’s airspace is thought to be 12 nautical miles.
Since the flights have moved farther south, it may be harder to go back to the old routes and make sure US planes can fly freely in international airspace, the senior official said. Since December 2021, US Navy ships have not been in the Black Sea.