WASHINGTON — A senior Pentagon official has denied Russian media reports that a U.S. intelligence drone has been intercepted while flying surveillance missions over Crimea.
The official declined to be quoted or identified because of the ongoing crisis in the region. " We have no information whatsoever that supports this claim," a Pentagon spokesman said.
A report by the news agency Interfax was picked up by the Kremlin-owned Voice of Russia radio claiming that an Army MQ-5B "Hunter" drone, attached to the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade, was brought down in Chongar, near Crimea, along the Russian-Ukrainian border.
The report said Russian self-defense forces were able to jam and eventually break the communication link between the aircraft and its Army pilots, forcing the drone to make an emergency landing. It was flying at 4,000 meters, it said.
The report said it was based on a statement released on the website of Russian defense firm Rostec, but the statement could not be found on the website.
Army officials in Washington contacted by BuzzFeed had not heard or been notified of any loss of unmanned aircraft attached to U.S. Army-Europe, the service's command in the region.
Military experts previously told BuzzFeed that the U.S. could choose to run support missions in Ukraine that would likely focus on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations, which include use of long-range surveillance drones and U.S. spy planes.