Pentagon Denies Downed U.S. Drone Report in Crimea

HunterThe Pentagon is denying reports by Russian sponsored media companies that a U.S. Army drone crashed while flying an intelligence mission over Crimea.

An unnamed Pentagon official told ABC News the report was false because the U.S. is not flying any drone missions over Crimea, the segment of Ukraine that Russian troops are stationed.

Rostec, a Russian state owned media company, reported the U.S. drone was flying at 12,000 feet when a cyber attack forced it to make an emergency landing. The Voice of Russia reported the drone was an MQ-5B Hunter with the “66th U.S. brigade of military intelligence with the main location in Bavaria.”

A couple issues with that report besides the denial from the Pentagon.

First, the MQ-5 Hunter is one of the oldest, most basic drones in the U.S. fleet that the Army has since replaced with the RQ-7  Shadow. Even if the Russians mistook the drone for a Shadow, it seems unlikely the U.S. would fly one of their slowest and least powerful drones in the U.S. fleet.

If the U.S. military flew an intelligence and surveillance collection mission over Crimea with a drone, it seems a lot more likely the U.S. would tap the Air Force to fly its stealth drone for such a sensitive mission — the RQ-170 Sentinel. Tough to mistake the Sentinel for the RQ-5 Hunter.


About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • Ben

    Either way, you’d think we’d have learned our lesson. At least make them shoot the damn thing down.

  • Lance

    I don’t care if it ws the newsiest drone the Russian defense will make mincemeat of crappy drone this President wants to replace all is not most manned planes.

    • Robert Rowe

      Remember ! You can surrender standing still or walking forward with your hands UP !

    • English please… also facts…

    • tiger

      Lance, U-2’s have been lost a few times. You do not need a man to play flying photog anymore.

  • If this were true, it would be a serious problem.

    • keith


  • Chaz

    Or of course it could just be another blatant attempt by the Russian Govt to spread more lies baout what is going on in Crimea…

  • Jake

    I seem to remember reading about Germans doing similiar tactics to the Polish in 1939….

  • Kole

    Isn’t it funny that every news story that comes out now about a “Take down” of American aircraft has to do with a drone?

    • Bernard

      Would you prefer a dead or captured pilot?

      • Ben

        Rather than hand over sophisticated surveillance/stealth tech on a silver platter? Yes.

        The key detail to note about this incident and the RQ-170 capture is that they both involved the drone being tricked/hijacked into landing, not being shot down. Manned aircraft can’t be spoofed like that.

    • keith

      No, that’s why you use drones. To send them places that might endanger a pilot unnecessarily.

    • Sergei

      Not all the news.

  • Cong Tu Gia

    Communists were born “natural liars”.

    • oblatt22

      Yea we’re not flying drones over Crimea ? sure – much more likely you are just gullible.

      • keith

        Don’t get me wrong Cong Tu Gia’s comment is a bit imbecilic, but why would we fly drones over Crimea? We can get good intel from the Ukranians, including recon flights, there’s plenty of Ukranian intelligence officers there, on the ground. Ie, even if we want intelligence that we can’t get from satellites, there are way more reliable and less dangerous ways to get it.

      • IronV

        Actually, there’s not a chance in hell we’re flying drones over Crimea. And any suggstion we are is pure lunacy.

        • blight_

          We would be best served flying aircraft outside of the Crimea, as far away from it as possible and use side-looking radar for information collection.

          I suppose the Russians could try jam/spoof to bring a drone flying outside the Crimea into the Crimea for proper capture. Could the US respond by saying “oh no, we kept the drone outside of Russian territory, they just hacked it from far away and reeled it in like a fish”? Probably not.

        • steve p

          Is this your opinion or fact… if fact , please post evidence, if it is just your opinion thank you your opinion has been read.

    • Actually Russia is Communist. That’s the opposite of Fascist. Over history the two factions have hated each other

    • Rest

      No, the US is a far more sophisticated Fascist police state than Russia.

  • oblatt22

    Just like the drone over Iran the Pentagon has been caught with its pants down and is doing the only thing it can – deny everything.

  • anthony bauwens

    Another lie,if true we would have heard it first..

    • Today’s history assignment: review the “Gary Powers” U2 incident.

  • purpleheartpark

    I did not have Sex with that woman “Ms. Lewinsky, If you want to keep your Health Care you can, We were attacked in the Tonkin Gulf, There was no U-2 Flights over the Soviet Union, I am not a Crook etc. etc of course you can Believe in our Government to tell the Truth….

    • chris

      Clinton lied to save his butt. Those other lies were to promote more actions or to cover a group of people butts or to protect a country butt.
      One simple fact if Clinton was going to lie about a small matter and a personal matter that only Hillary could hold against or punish him for. I does make one stop and think if Clinton would lie for that what else would he lie to cover up.
      For all we know now Bill might have killed Vince Foster personally, because Bill caught Foster with Hillary in the back seat or Vince might not have been able to stop dragging his teeth.
      Bill would have done better if he had said “If everyone really wants to know what happened between Ms Lewinsky and me. They can read about it in next month Penthouse Forum”

    • Rest

      We already have got solid evidence showing US/NATO involvement in using the mobs to overthrow a democratically elected president in Ukraine and killing so-called “protesters” .

      It’s been a continuing effort in dis-stablizing Russia and its eastern front … the color revolutions.

      Similar efforts have been, or are being expended in other parts of the world … Libya, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, China, Burma, Thailand….

  • AsktheOnewhoKnows

    Umm guys…this is more about reporters not asking the right questions to the right people. Whenever a drone goes down, they automatically contact the DoD “Did you guys lose something?”…”No WE didn’t lose anything”……

    Rather than asking the CIA.. “Did you guys lose something” …”ummm well umm well, we can’t really comment on operational events…”……

    • Sergei


  • Mambo

    It’s a MQ-5 Hunter. There are private citizens with more advanced RC planes in the United States. I very seriously doubt the powers that be are sitting around wringing their hands over losing a 20 year old, low altitude “drone”.

  • mary

    Putin is making Obama look like the rank amateur he is.

  • macdaddy

    Im guessing it was a mq-5 hunter but not ours hmmmm Poland?

  • Father

    Two military planes of NATO landed at night near Kiev.
    For the morning there was Dron Pentagona who denies
    flight and the subsequent plane landing in the Crimea.

  • Glasnost

    Maybe counter int. lose an aging drone and make it relatively easy for them to take it. Let them take it home, (god forbid theyre dumb enough to hook it up to some computer systems). Add some other backasswards encryption to the thing, tamper w some of the tech in areas where there is need, lead them down the wrong path, get them to tip there hand, mislead them in specific areas where you know they’re in need of help. Obviously the enemy has likely imagined all of this and will go out of their way to detect and disable any basic funny business…but there are other ways to manipulate them. Of course you just deny it.

  • Jon

    It was Bush’s fault

  • John C.

    The first half of this article by Mike Hoffman reports what the “state owned Russian sponsored media companies” say,…. the rest is line after line of reasons why the Russian reports must be wrong. But I guess it is reliable reporting because is not state owned like Russian news outlets. But wait ,…. don’t they cater to veterans, the military and contractors? So they do have a huge financial incentive to state “the party line”. The pentagon doesn’t need spokesmen with “journalism” like this. I grieve for the benefits of a free press. These days all one has to do is to follow the money trail to understand the motivation behind a simple list of talking points like the above, pretending to be a news story.

  • wpnexp

    Can you say Bulls**t. The MQ-5B Hunter has a raduis of action of about 124 miles. So, the report would have to assume that we have troops in the Ukraine already as all other locations are much to far away. Second, the Hunter is a tactical UAV not suited for stategic intelligence gathering. The Hunter also offers almost no better intelligence than what we can gather with our satellites. In fact, our satellites are far more useful in this case anyway. The only reason to send a UAV would be to send the Russians a message, but it is a very weak message. Finally, based on the fact that the Russians are copying the Iranian, “we brought the UAV down using a cyber attack,” is a too obvious a slip. Are we to suppose that the Russians have a sophisticated anti-uav cyber unit in the Crimea? Don’t waste your time waiting for the paper mache model of a Hunter UAV to be displayed.

  • Annoyed

    Doesn’t A Co. 1st MI Bn (AE), 66th MI Bde fly MQ-5Bs?

  • Leo Gerald Johnson

    Isn’t it great how “Politicians” deny that they’ve been caught with their “Drone’s down”

  • oblatt22

    Yea we heard all the same excuses when the drone over Iran came down – no drone is missing, the wreckage is a fake on and one until a month later the admission that it was a real drone downed.

    Obviously the Russians wont be fooled – the denials are for the simple folk in the US who you can fool all the time.

  • hibeam

    Do we still have drones? What a waste of free phones money.

  • if you can’t kill the story, then deny deny……….ask the administration

  • Mike

    Hard to follow that logic since they sent in F15s not F22s

  • hibeam

    Walk softly and carry a big apology. The Obama doctrine.

  • Chuck Werner

    Why would anyone use a low and slow drone to do the same or better with a satellite?

    • Rest

      Why did they develope drones at all if the satellites were so great?

  • Rest

    What else is the Pentagon good at beside denying its big screw-ups? Anyone who follows IA knows the US and NATO were behind the murders, chaos and coup in Ukraine.

  • smh

    a lot of people acting like they know what the heck they’re talking about, its cute. i fly these aircraft and theres a reason why they’ve been around so long. they’re an incredibly reliable and capable aircraft, better then those garbage lawn mower shadows. so that whole story is definitely propaganda bs. if you don’t want to take it from the pentagon, take it from a soldier who knows first hand.

    also to the writer, “slowest and least powerful”..?? you do realize that UAV’s conducting reconnaissance and surveillance missions have no need to break the sound barrier…no, no you don’t. and most basic would also not be a correct statement. good try though, champ.

  • Smith28

    Be it true or not, I don’t see using the “Deniability” of such events as a wrong course of action to take. It makes one question their own source/media (The ones being of the opposing faction in this case ‘Russia’) and leaves only question to those not directly involved in the matter. It may have gone down just like the news said or not, it creates a shrode on the truth and makes finding out the exact detials harder. That’s how I see it, I may be absolutely wrong on all accounts but that’s my two cents.

  • Timespanr

    After viewing a very poor quality photo of this same drone
    on another site, same subject
    my Guess would have be a Israelie Heron I Prop UAV Drone
    check the actual picture of the Drone and look for thr Top mounted Radar Dome
    and check the rear taill fins on the bird
    it most certainly is not either one pictured