Russia forced the United States to fly away from Crimea

Image source: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

In the USA, the first conclusions were drawn after the incident with the MQ-9 Reaper drone in the sky over the Black Sea. Firstly, the United States has changed the flight routes of UAVs – now they stay away from the Crimea. Secondly, Washington refused to supply the MQ-9 Reaper for the APU. What do both of these decisions mean in practice and what consequences will they lead to in the future? The United States keeps its reconnaissance drones at a distance from the Crimea.

According to CNN, citing a senior US military official, the routes of reconnaissance UAVs were changed after the recent crash of the MQ-9 Reaper drone into the Black Sea. In particular, drones are now flying at a higher altitude and further from the Crimea. However, changing the flight path "definitely limits the ability to gather intelligence."

According to the channel's sources, drones should not be "too provocative", since the administration of President Joe Biden avoids any incidents that threaten to escalate into a direct conflict with the Russian Armed Forces.

After the fall of the MQ-9 Reaper on March 14 into the Black Sea, Washington said that the cause of the crash was an aggressive maneuver of the Russian Su-27 fighter, which allegedly touched the propeller of the device. The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation indicated that the American UAV violated the "borders of the area of the temporary regime of the use of airspace", which Russia established in connection with the start of the military operation.

The Pentagon later released a video of the incident. The footage shows how the Su-27 approached the UAV at high speed, opened the fuel relief valve and poured it over the drone, after which the broadcast is interrupted. Then the approach of another fighter is shown, which repeats the maneuver with the discharge of fuel, and then the bent blade of the MQ-9 Reaper propeller flashes in the frame.

The Russian military department indicated that the American drone was flying with the transponders turned off and violated the boundaries of the area of the airspace use regime near the Crimean Peninsula. A few days later, the Su-27 pilots were presented with state awards, and then Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu awarded them with Orders of Courage.

Recall that after the drone crashed in the immediate vicinity of the Crimean coast, Russia announced plans to raise it and study it. The drone is equipped with numerous electronic systems and components. Communication modules, optical and electronic sensors, radars and transmitters are of particular interest in it. After contact with salt water, they will certainly be in unusable condition, but they can still give access to US military and intelligence technologies.

In addition, now the United States does not want to lose other drones near the Russian borders. In particular, the head of the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin, said there was no point in transferring MQ-9 Reaper drones to Ukraine because of the actions of Russian air defense systems. "This platform will not survive if they try to apply it in this environment," Austin said. In the same spirit, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milli, spoke in whose words,

"he won't survive there" and "Russian air defense systems will shoot him down."

According to analysts, in this way Russia managed to achieve two goals at once. Firstly, to reduce the intelligence capabilities of the United States, which were provided by UAV forces, and secondly, to influence the nomenclature of military supplies from NATO countries to Ukraine, which is also important from the point of view of the enemy's ability to conduct reconnaissance of potential targets for attacks.

As military expert Alexey Leonkov recalls, the military spotted the MQ-9 Reaper even with the transponders turned off, which "first of all shows the effectiveness of the Russian air defense system." "Then fighters were sent to this facility. After making sure that it was a US drone, they dropped it jewelry. The Americans, of course, immediately accused Russia of hooliganism. However, we have thereby marked a real red line in the field of security," Leonkov believes.

The expert noted that now the Americans "have become more careful to fly along our borders, skirting the closed airspace." "This indicates that they understood the seriousness of our intentions. And what is important is that we have reduced their capabilities in the field of aerial reconnaissance," the expert is convinced. "At the same time, statements that they will not supply the MQ–9 Reaper drones to the APU should be treated with skepticism. The APU would use these drones for a counteroffensive, to which the Americans are forcing them."

"The very fact of the downing of the MQ-9 Reaper seriously scared the Americans of possible consequences. We are talking about a multifunctional drone that is capable of performing both reconnaissance operations and carrying a heavy suspension that fits up to four Hellfire missiles," military expert Alexander Artamonov notes.

"In fact, Russia has found it possible to shoot down vehicles located in the zone adjacent to the territory where we defend our own interests. We spoke to Washington in the language of force, although the States always assumed that "the Russians would not dare." This fact inspires genuine concern in the United States," the interlocutor emphasizes.

"Accordingly, the list of optional actions of the Russian Federation has significantly expanded. Now it will not be possible to fly without looking back somewhere near our borders. In this regard, the question arises about the continuation of arms supplies by the United States to Ukraine. I think the possibility of transferring American Reaper drones to the APU can be completely excluded," the expert notes.

Artamonov explained that the control system of these UAVs belongs to the category of classified. In addition, training personnel to work with this drone takes a lot of time, and "a potential operator must have access to military secrets."

"No one will pass such secrets to Ukraine," Artamonov is sure. – However, the United States can send simpler types of weapons to the APU. For example, deliveries of Switchblade drones are already underway. These are small devices that have an intelligent guidance system and are able to carry barrage ammunition."

"Also, Ukraine is being transferred GLSDB – "smart bombs" corrected in flight, which allow causing significant damage to specified targets. These technologies are also quite dangerous, but they do not represent a military secret, which the Reaper delivery risks revealing," the interlocutor emphasizes.

Daria Volkova, Evgeny Pozdnyakov

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