The US believes Russia has recovered some debris in the Black Sea from the downed US surveillance drone, a US official familiar with the matter told CNN. The official described the recovered wreckage as pieces of fiberglass or small bits of the MQ-9 Reaper drone.
CNN reported on Wednesday that Russia had reached the location where the US surveillance drone went down in the Black Sea, approximately 70-80 miles southwest of Crimea.
But the Biden administration downplayed the significance of the drone wreckage or the potential to glean any sensitive intelligence from the remains of the aircraft.
“We made it impossible for them to be able to glean anything of intelligence value off the remnants of that drone, whatever remnants there might be on the surface of the water,” John Kirby, the National Security Council strategic communications coordinator, told CNN on Wednesday.
After the collision between the US drone and the Russian fighter jets early Tuesday morning, the drone operators took steps to erase the sensitive software of the drone before it fell into the Black Sea, according to US officials.
“Whatever's left … that's floating will probably be flight control surfaces, that kind of thing. Probably nothing of real intrinsic value to them in terms of terms of reengineering or anything like that,” Kirby said.
The drone landed in water that may be nearly a mile deep, Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“That's US property and, and we'll, we'll leave it that at this point, but it probably broke up. There's probably not a lot to recover, frankly,” he said.