A Russian-owned arms and technology company claims that an American surveillance drone was disabled and captured while flying over Crimea. Reports are a little sketchy so-far, but this is what we know. Rostec, a state-owned Russian arms company, says a U.S. surveillance drone was essentially hacked electronically, on Friday using technology they developed, then crashed to the ground virtually intact. Per the AFP:
"The drone was flying at about 4,000 metres (12,000 feet) and was virtually invisible from the ground. It was possible to break the link with US operators with complex radio-electronic" technology, said Rostec in a statement.
According to Voice of Russia, a state-owned news operation, the drone was brought down with "electronic warfare." The fallen drone is "almost intact," according to the technology company, and currently in the hands of the Russian military. Rostec guesses, based on an identification number, that the drone was operated by the Reconnaissance Brigade, U.S. troops based in Bavaria.
Whether or not Russia actually shot down an American drone is entirely unclear, as no hard evidence has been presented to back up the claim. Iran has claimed to intercept American drones on multiple occasions, and once even claimed to have reconstructed a copycat, but even that seemed fake. We won't know if this report about Russia is true until an image emerges. However, no one would be surprised to learn that the American are conducting surveillance over Crimea, and even an accidental crash wouldn't be unheard of.