A United States surveillance drone has apparently been intercepted above the Ukrainian region of Crimea in the lead up to its referendum on joining Russia.
Source:
AAP
15 Mar 2014 - 5:45 AM  UPDATED 15 Mar 2014 - 5:48 AM

A United States surveillance drone has been intercepted above the Ukrainian region of Crimea, a Russian state arms and technology group says.

"The drone was flying at about 4000 metres and was virtually invisible from the ground. It was possible to break the link with US operators with complex radio-electronic" technology, Rostec said in a statement on Friday.

The drone fell "almost intact into the hands of self-defence forces" it added, claiming to have manufactured the equipment used to down the aircraft but not specifying who was operating it.

"Judging by its identification number, UAV MQ-5B belonged to the 66th American Reconnaissance Brigade, based in Bavaria," Rostec said on its website, which also carried a picture of what it said was the captured drone.

The photograph appeared to show an apparently armed drone in flight, rather than debris.

The Crimean port of Sevastopol is home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet, which is believed to be equipped with detection equipment.

Crimea, where pro-Kremlin forces have control, is to hold a referendum on Sunday on the peninsula joining Russia, in what Moscow says is a fair expression of self identity but the West views as an illegal annexation of sovereign territory.