MQ-9 drone ‘shot down’ by Su-27 recovered from seabed by Russians

On March 14th of this year, a Russian Su-27 “shot down” a drone from the inventory of the US Air Force in Europe. We remind you that then the Russian fighter jets poured fuel on the drone flying on a reconnaissance mission. As a result, the drone is damaged and the operators see no other way out than to “bring it down” into the waters of the Black Sea. The drone sinks almost immediately.

GA might deliver MQ-9 Reaper UAVs to Ukraine in less than 30 days
Photo credit: Wikipedia

A new report reveals that the drone has now been removed by the Russian military. This information cannot be independently verified at this time. But it appears in a report by a user with the username Tsarigrad. One million followers have the Tsarigrad account on

Tsarigrad recalls that the value of the reconnaissance drone is close to 56 million USD. Quite expensive military equipment, as you can dine yourself. According to the report, the US military did not anticipate that the Russian Air Force would dare to challenge the MQ-9. Therefore, the drone takes maneuvers that are above the airspace of Crimea. Russia considers Crimea to be its territory, and that is why it is raising the Su-27 in the air. However, the US denies that the drone flew in the airspace over Crimea.

If it turns out to be true that Russia already owns this drone, then there is a lot of work ahead in Moscow to get it off the ground. The Russians will gain access to sensitive military technology. These are interesting radio electronic components.

In particular, we are talking about a dome optical-electronic complex, a complex for surface electronic intelligence of the American apparatus. In addition, Russian experts will access the wiring of microwave devices, secure satellite communications, the terminal of the data exchange system, and others.

Russia will reward Su-27 pilots who 'pissed' the MQ-9 drone
Video screenshot

The Tsarigrad account asked the director of the Air Defense Forces Museum, military expert Yuriy Knutov. He also opines that it “is a great catch from the bottom of the sea”. However, Mr. Knutov pays attention not only to the intelligence technologies integrated into the drone but also to its strike capabilities. According to him, the Russian experts will closely familiarize themselves with “the organization of communication via satellite with the control point, plus the organization of communication via GPS.”. I.e. target designation shortly before and immediately after the missile launch.

In his comment, Mr. Knutov draws attention to another important event that Russian engineers are about to learn about. The MQ-9 is a reconnaissance drone. Its function is while scouting to record electronic data. I.e. the frequencies of Russian radar stations, missile guidance stations, as well as radio communications will be recorded by the drone.

This data is important to Americans because it makes Russian systems much more vulnerable than they were before the advent of drones. But with the removal of the drone from the waters of the Black Sea, the Russians will find out “which Russian systems were breached” i.e. their RF data has become visible to the MQ-9. This will allow in the coming months Moscow to change the frequencies of the radar stations and “the game starts all over again”.

French MQ-9 UAVs will get ELINT for situational intelligence
Photo credit: Wikipedia

If the report is confirmed and Russia has indeed recovered the MQ-9 from the seabed, then this will become a serious problem for the US defense. Although, this is only one drone, and the Pentagon reluctantly admits the downing of the drone as “unpleasant, but at an acceptable risk” this is not really the case.

First, Russia has shown the US that it will act increasingly aggressively. Although the US does not recognize Crimea as Russian, it is a US problem, not Russia’s. In the conditions of war and dozens of international rules violated since the beginning of the war by all parties to the conflict, including those indirectly involved in it, it no longer matters whose Crimea it is, but who guards it and who believes it is his.

That is why the US will most likely restrict flights near the peninsula from here on out. This is already observed as a fact. Some trackers of the routes of combat aviation show a bypass of the Crimea from afar. I.e. Russia achieved its goal of reducing American influence by providing Ukraine with intelligence on the air and territorial integrity of the peninsula.

Currently, there is an order for American drones to fly at a distance of 80 km from the borders of Russia. These borders already include Crimea, according to the latest routes of Western reconnaissance drones.

Greece buys short takeoff/landing MQ-9B SeaGuardian version
Photo credit: YouTube

Second, Washington may begin to consider whether to actually hand over the Abrams tanks to Ukraine. There is no indication at this time that this will happen, but after all, Abrams is also a carrier of sensitive technology. A capture of an Acherikan tank will once again expose American developments to the eyes of the Russians.


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