The skies over the Black Sea have been the scene of more regular interactions between drones and aircraft of NATO countries and the Russian armed forces, especially since the start of the war in Ukraine.
“With the current crisis, there is an increase in the number of intelligence vectors towards Crimea with Reaper, which we did not have before. And depending on the situation, it could piss off the Russians. Especially Western collection operations (information, editor’s note) participate in targeting Ukraine.“, underlines a French expert on condition of anonymity.
Ukraine’s Western allies, which have provided arms to Kiev since the beginning of the conflict to help it defend itself, have not directly engaged in Ukrainian territory, fearing an escalation by Russian nuclear power.
So, “Diplomatic channels can defuse the event“, said a Western military source.
The Reaper drone, manufactured by the American company General Atomics, is a MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) type remotely piloted aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art on-board sensors (optronic ball and radar) to carry out surveillance operations. The cruising speed is 335 kmph.
With a wingspan of 20 meters, it has a flying autonomy of more than 24 hours. It can carry several types of weapons: laser and/or GPS (GPU) guided bombs or Hellfire missiles. Its ground team consists of 4 people.
Besides the US, several European militaries including the British, Italians, French and Spanish have Reaper drones in their fleets.
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