The US has drastically reduced its RQ-4 Global Hawk drone flights over the Black Sea since a Russian fighter jet collided with a Reaper drone last month causing it to crash into the sea.
The air force flew the Northrop Grumman aircraft three times over the sea between March 21 and April 20 while staying within Romanian airspace, the Russian state-owned news outlet wrote.
According to RIA Novosti, the drone did not approach Crimea closer than 400 kilometers (248 miles) during the flights, which is over twice its radar range.
Ten Flights Per Month Since Feb 2022
In comparison, the service flew the drone eight to ten times every month since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022.
“After the incident with the American Reaper drone, which fell into the waters of the Black Sea on March 14, only two more Global Hawk flights were performed over the Black Sea – on March 17 and March 21 – both at a distance of no closer than 140 kilometers (87 miles) from the southern coast of Crimea,” the outlet quoted a source as saying.
“On the one hand, at such a range, the amount of information received by the UAV is sharply reduced, on the other hand, after March 14, the American side was in danger of losing such a device, and the Global Hawk is several times more expensive than the Reaper and is saturated with the most advanced equipment.”
At over $200 million, the RQ-4 is far costlier than the Reaper and has superior endurance, with a range of 36 hours and over 22,000 kilometers (13,670 miles).