Wednesday, October 5, 2022

US Air Force flies surveillance unmanned aircraft over Black Sea

The U.S. Air Force surged MQ-9A Reaper surveillance unmanned aircraft into the Black Sea region to gather intelligence amid Russia is massing troops at the border with Ukraine.

Expert military aviation tracker the Aircraft Spots was first to notice the MQ-9A Reaper, using the callsign SWIVL21, over the Black Sea region.

“USAF MQ-9A callsign SWIVL21 round trip out of NAS Sigonella, Italy en route to the Black Sea for a reconnaissance mission,” the expert said in a Twitter post-Monday.


The MQ-9 Reaper is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft. It is part of a remotely piloted aircraft system. A fully operational system consists of sensor/weapon-equipped aircraft, ground control station, Predator Primary Satellite Link, and spare equipment along with operations and maintenance crews for deployed 24-hour missions.

The Reaper is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and secondarily against dynamic execution targets. Given its significant loiter time, wide-range sensors, multi-mode communications suite, and precision weapons, it provides a unique capability to perform strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets.

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About this Author

Dylan Malyasov
Defense journalist and commentator. Aviation photographer. Dylan leads Defence Blog's coverage of global military news, focusing on engineering and technology across the U.S. defense industry.