March 16, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

The US is conducting an evaluation of its drone operations within the Black Sea space, weighing the prices and advantages of the flights after Russia compelled down one of many plane earlier this week, a number of officers advised CNN.

The US has not stopped the flights solely whereas it completes the evaluation — the navy despatched the identical mannequin of drone, an MQ-9 Reaper, on a mission in roughly the identical space over the Black Sea shortly after the collision occurred, US officers mentioned. That plane was meant to survey the crash website and monitor Russians in search of the particles.

However the US navy is “taking an in depth look” on the drones’ routes and assessing find out how to higher scale back the chance of battle with Russia’s navy, which repeatedly flies fighter jets out and in of Crimea, the officers mentioned.

The Pentagon plans to research the general prices and advantages of flying these missions, evaluating the potential intelligence worth of a selected route versus the chance of escalation with Russia.  

There may be concern amongst some within the US navy that limiting drone routes will influence intelligence gathering associated to the Ukraine struggle, the senior navy official mentioned. However the US has potential alternate options for gathering the intel, akin to spy satellites. 

The US is contemplating one other drone flight over the Black Sea within the coming days, the officers mentioned, which might be in step with its typical working schedule.

Extra background: The collision between the Russian Su-27 fighter jets and the US drone occurred round 40-50 nautical miles southwest of Crimea, over the Black Sea in worldwide airspace, the US Air Drive mentioned Thursday. 

Russia accused the US of violating airspace they declare to have created for his or her “particular navy operation” in Ukraine—a designation the US doesn’t settle for. The officers additionally mentioned Russia has not communicated any such airspace restriction. 

New footage launched by the Pentagon on Thursday exhibits the Russian fighter jets quickly approaching the drone, pouring gas on it, and showing to break the drone’s propellor. The US was compelled to take the drone down over the Black Sea after the influence made it successfully inoperable, officers mentioned.