Russia Will Attempt to Recover Downed U.S. Drone: Kremlin

Russia will try to locate and recover the remnants of a downed U.S. military drone in the Black Sea, according to state media.

Nikolai Patrushev, who heads up Russia's Security Council, said he was not sure whether Russian forces would be able to retrieve the drone, but "we need to do this," according to state media outlet RIA Novosti.

Sergey Naryshkin, the head of Russia's foreign intelligence service, also said Russia would "continue to monitor the equipment and the territories that hold the most interest" to the U.S., the state media report added.

At 7.03 a.m. ET on Tuesday, a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone was struck by a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea, the U.S. military said.

The U.S. European Command said in a statement that Russian Su-27 fighter jets had behaved in "a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner" before the collision.

"This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional," it added.

MQ-9 Reaper UAV
An MQ-9 Reaper takes off August 8, 2007, at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada. The Reaper is the Air Force's first "hunter-killer" unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), designed to engage time-sensitive targets on the battlefield as well as provide intelligence and surveillance. The drone was downed over the Black Sea after "reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional" behavior from Russian aircraft, the U.S. European Command said. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said that due to the damage the drone sustained, "we were in a position to have to essentially crash it into the Black Sea." The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) became "uncontrollable" and U.S. forces "brought it down," he added.

On Tuesday, the White House said it had "taken steps" to retrieve the remains of the destroyed drone. The U.S. does not want the UAV "to fall into anyone's hands other than ours," National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby told CNN.

The drone was "intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft," which led to "a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9," U.S. Air Force General James Hecker said. However, Russia's defense ministry denied that the Su-27 aircraft came "into contact" with the UAV, saying the loss of the drone was "a result of sharp maneuvering."

"The MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle went into uncontrolled flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface," the ministry said in a statement. "The Russian fighters did not use airborne weapons, did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle and returned safely to their base airfield."

"Obviously, we refute the Russians' denial," Kirby said.

Writing on Twitter, former U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman said he was "concerned" that Russian forces were "best positioned" to get hold of the drone and "exploit" the technology.

However, James Rogers, a war historian and NATO adviser specializing in drones, previously told Newsweek that most of the data collected by the "advanced" drone will not be stored onboard the UAV to prevent data leaks.

It will, however, still "be of interest to Russia," he said.

Although the MQ-9 Reaper is an "advanced" drone with capabilities that "will be of interest to Russia," a rush from Moscow to retrieve the remnants of the UAV is "unlikely."

The now-"routine" drone patrols in the region are likely to increase once again in the wake of the incident, with the MQ-9 Reaper in particular "a common presence in international airspace over the Black Sea," he predicted.