The Pentagon says that the take-down of the Reaper drone by Russian Su-27 pilots was unsafe and unprofessional. But the USA has not explained what the drone was doing flying near Crimea, nor has it told the public about the unique capabilities of the MQ-9 Reaper.
The Russians say that the drone was in a prohibited area and that the Russians had notified everyone, including the USA and NATO, that the area was off-limits. The Su-27 clipped the wing of the US spy drone for it to crash into the Black Sea.
As it turns out, the drone’s location was about 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of the Crimean port of Sevastopol. Before the Russian intervention in eastern Ukraine, Crimea was supposed to serve as a second Israel for the Zionist Khazarica mafia.
The USA says the Reaper drone was not armed. The drone has eight hard-points and can carry a wide range of weapons. It also has an elaborate sensor suite.
Crimea is ultra-sensitive for the Russians, for strategic reasons because of Sevastopol port and because Moscow considers Crimea to have been part of Russia since the time of Catherine the Great (1762-1798).
The Russians know that NATO and Ukraine are planning a Spring offensive, for which it is reportedly marshaling some 40,000 troops. The target is almost certainly Crimea.
The cat was let out of the bag by US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, who made clear the US supports strikes on Crimea – a declaration that was celebrated by Ukrainian newspapers.
Washington is well aware of the dire situation in Ukraine and the threat facing Zelensky and his generals. While US officials keep telling the public and their NATO allies that Ukraine is winning the war, the truth is the reverse.
The Washington Post, long a drum-beater for supporting the war in Ukraine and bashing the Russians (no worries about a NATO war or nuclear weapons), this week quotes a battalion commander who says that most if not all of the best-trained Ukrainian soldiers are dead.
While the Russians have not yet defeated the Ukrainians, their main tactic is to trap Ukrainian fighters in urbanized areas, then blast away at them with artillery and air strikes.
The Russians generally are having success in creating what they call cauldrons, shutting down roadways and other escape routes. NATO and US military operators must be aware that Ukraine’s offensive could fail.
One of the likely reasons the Reaper was operating off the coast of Crimea would have been to target precisely Russian assets there, especially artillery and air defenses but also command centers and communications.
The Reaper is a powerful platform and the US Air Force has them deployed in Poland and Romania with many more in Europe. It can carry JDAM heavy glide bombs and can avoid Russian yammers thanks to advanced electro-optical and infrared targeting sensors.
The Reaper is equipped with the MTS-B EO-IR sensor made by Raytheon.
By taking out the Reaper on March 14, 2023 the Russians are making it clear that these targeting and attack assets will be targeted and destroyed by the Russian Air Force.
Whether Ukraine will risk everything in an attack on Crimea is uncertain, although Washington is pushing it and making preparations. Would NATO intervene to help the Ukrainians with air-power or US airborne forces if the offensive starts to fail?
The Reaper incident, therefore, is much more than just an errant downing of an unmanned innocent aircraft. It is a very dangerous moment for all the parties, especially the USA and NATO, and no one knows how reckless Washington may be under the circumstances.
Asia Times / ABC Flash Point News 2023.