UPDATED - SEE BOTTOM -- Within the past few minutes, Russia/Syria fired an S-300 surface-to-air missile from a base at Tartus, Syria, westward out into the Mediterranean Sea.
The S-300 is one of the most fearsome, accurate, and deadly interceptor missiles in the world. It does not miss.
No word yet on what has been shot down.
UPDATE 5:35 PM EDT --
The Pentagon confirms the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush is operating in the Mediterranean and has aircraft which are airborne conducting flight operations. No indication at all if the Bush or any of its planes were the target for the missile launch.
UPDATE 6:32 PM EDT --
Still not one word about what was fired upon or shot down. Checking all my sources repeatedly. . .
UPDATE 11:46 PM EDT --
Reports are now coming in that a United States Air Force EQ-4 "Global Hawk" drone was shot down over the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Syria, by a Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile fired from the Russian Base at Tartus, Syria.
I contacted the Pentagon Press Office after-hours phone via Text message to seek their comment(s) for this story, but they did not reply.
The EQ-4 with a wingspan of more than 130 feet, (roughly the same as a 737 airliner) is the the Air Force's largest drone.
The Air Force has more than 30 RQ-4 surveillance drones, but only three EQ-4s fitted with Northrop Grumman's Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN).
BACN is a high-altitude, airborne communications and information gateway system that maintains operational communications support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The persistent connectivity that BACN provides improves situational awareness and enables better coordination between forward-edge warfighters and commanders. BACN bridges and extends voice communications and battlespace awareness information from numerous sources using a suite of computers and radio systems.
After the BACN payloads have been integrated on Block 20 Global Hawks, the aircraft are designated as USAF EQ-4B unmanned systems, providing long endurance and high persistence gateway capabilities.
All of the EQ-4 aircraft are assigned to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing based at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.
If this information that the Russians shot down an EQ-4 Global Hawk is accurate, then US Troops operating on the ground with Syrian "Rebels" will no longer be able to INSTANTLY talk to nearby air support as was done a few days ago, when a US F/A-18 was called-in to attack and destroy a Syrian Arab Army Air Force fighter jet.
This type of shoot down would severely hamper US future operational ability in Syria because there are only a total of three EQ-4's in existence.
To outfit one RQ-4 with the BACN (thereby turning it into an EQ-4) costs about twenty-two million dollars.
Such a shoot down by Russia would be pricey retaliation over the US Shoot-down of a Syrian Jet, without causing the US to feel a need to avenge anything; like a pilot.
As shown below, the cost of a Global Hawk Drone is a MINIMUM of $131 Million, but with R&D, the Unit Cost can be as high as $222 Million -- plus the BACN for another $22 Million.
It would send a Russian message to the US not to shoot down anymore Syrian government aircraft.
If the Pentagon Press office responds to my inquiry, this story will be further updated.
12:04 AM EDT June 22, 2017
Russia Targets US Spying Plane over Syrian Waters
Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:21
Social media activists in Tartus port city reported that the Russian anti-aircraft missile units opened fire at a US spying plane in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday.
As the Russian missile units started anti-air operation, unconfirmed reports said that the Russian missiles targeted a RQ 4 Global Hawk drone of the US army.
The Mirnov'vestiyeh daily reported that the US possibly planned to gather intel on the Russian anti-aircraft system in Tartus port and Humeimim base by using RQ 4 Global Hawk drone that is an expensive spying plan.
The daily added that it is very strange that news went viral about missing of a similar drone over California on Thursday morning.
A NATO F-16 fighter jet tried to approach the Russian defense minister’s plane above the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea On Wednesday.
The plane was warded off by a Russian Su-27 escorting the minister’s aircraft, according to journalists who were on board.
The Russian plane was en route to the city of Kaliningrad, a Western Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea, where Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was scheduled to discuss security issues with defense officials on Wednesday, RT reported.
While one NATO aircraft tried to approach the Russian airplane, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet got in its way and tilted its wings, apparently showing its arms, according to RIA Novosti and TASS journalists who were on board. The F-16 then flew away.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that he has no information about the incident.
“It’s probably better to ask the Defense Ministry,” Peskov said in answer to journalists’ questions.
On Monday a US RC-135 spy plane flying toward the Russian border made a “provocative turn” toward a Baltic Fleet Su-27, which had been scrambled for an interception mission.
The encounters of Russian and US warplanes over the Baltic Sea waters have apparently become more frequent lately. A Russian fighter jet intercepted a small group of US warplanes, including Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker military refueling aircraft, two B-1 bombers and one B-52, during the BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) annual training exercise on June 10.
Earlier in June, the Russian military intercepted another B-52 bomber in the same area, and escorted by an Su-27 fighter away from Russian territory.
As usual the USA covered the news with a story that the Drone crashed in California..........
RQ-4 Global Hawk
The RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft with an integrated sensor suite that provides global all-weather, day or night intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability. Global Hawk's mission is to provide a broad spectrum of ISR collection capability to support joint combatant forces in worldwide peacetime, contingency and wartime operations. The Global Hawk provides persistent near-real-time coverage using imagery intelligence (IMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT) and moving target indicator (MTI) sensors.
Global Hawk began as an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration in 1995. The system was determined to have military utility and provide warfighters with an evolutionary high-altitude, long-endurance ISR capability. The Global Hawk has been deployed operationally to support overseas contingency operations since November 2001.
In the RQ-4 name, the "R" is the Department of Defense designation for reconnaissance and "Q" means unmanned aircraft system. The "4" refers to the series of purpose-built remotely piloted aircraft systems. The "E" in EQ-4 delineates the communication configuration of the BACN equipped aircraft.
Primary function: high-altitude, long-endurance ISR
Contractor: Northrop Grumman (Prime), Raytheon, L3 Comm
Power Plant: Rolls Royce-North American F137-RR-100 turbofan engine
Thrust: 7,600 pounds
Wingspan: 130.9 feet (39.8 meters)
Length: 47.6 feet (14.5 meters)
Height: 15.3 feet (4.7 meters)
Weight: 14,950 pounds (6,781 kilograms)
Maximum takeoff weight: 32,250 pounds (14628 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 17,300 pounds (7847 kilograms)
Payload: 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms)
Speed: 310 knots (357 mph)
Range: 12,300 nautical miles
Endurance: more than 34 hours
Ceiling: 60,000 feet (18,288 meters)
Crew (remote): three (LRE pilot, MCE pilot, and sensor operator)
Initial operating capability: 2011 (Block 30); 2015 (Block 40)
Inventory: active force, 33 (three more Block 30s purchased, to be fielded in 2017)