Photos: Mystery Drone Crash in Pakistan (updated)

What on Earth is this little guy? You’re looking at pictures of what’s apparently a small U.S. spy drone that crashed last week in Pakistan. The little drone apparently took off from a U.S. base at Qarar Ga airbase near Spinboldak in Kandahar and went down about 300 meters inside Pakistan near a Pakistani Frontier Corps base, according to press reports.

Anyone recognize the micro-UAV that’s apparently equipped with two cameras (though the picture above shows what could be four sensor apertures)? I’ve asked several analysts, including Teal Group UAV expert Phil Finnegan, to ID the bird and no one seems to know what it is. Update: Teal’s other UAV guru, Steve Zaloga tells DT that it might be a modified Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk.

It may be a Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk with the tail plane modified to look
more like a bird for camouflage. Just a guess, but the overall size and
other features are in that ball-park. The Desert Hawk is operated mainly by the
British, but the SOF community also operates a lot of small UAVs of
mysterious provenance.

Click through the jump to see more pics of the drone.  Come back for updates as we find out more.

I’d like to know how it’s powered and what those two circular pieces of wreckage are (sensors, perhaps).

37 Comments on "Photos: Mystery Drone Crash in Pakistan (updated)"

  1. Plausible deniability; looks Pakastani to me!

  2. there's a lot of RC (radio control) hobbyist in the Army and Marines, they bring their toys and sometimes they crash outside the wire.

  3. I think it's a Packistani look-a-like, purchased from the local Radio Shack. Get the AK in the photograph – LOL! Must be lookin for "little green men, or leprachans" maybe! {:-)}

  4. It's Bush's fault.

  5. I like how we're making our UAVs smaller and more inconspicuous. That is the future of UAV developement. More sensors, smaller packages, more decieving looks.

  6. Maybe its being flown by Al-Qaeda… either that or it's the one we made in our 9th grade shop class.

  7. I'll bet that at 2,000-3,000 AGL that thing looks exactly like a bird!! No one on the ground would be the wiser. Amazing!

  8. Great. Not enough that raptors & other large birds are getting hammered by habitat loss, incidental poisoning by veterinary drugs in cattle carcasses, direct persecution/shooting, etc. Now we have intelligence agencies using bird shaped drones to spy on insurgents, which will lead to even more shooting. Die infidel buzzard!

  9. Well, at least now we can say the military is actually environmentally friendly. Those who shot down "the bird" should be condemned for animal cruelty. :)

  10. it may have been returning from a reconnaissance mission over a US airbase

  11. Iran or China! Both have intrest, both have resourses, both would like to strain relations between the US and its allies, both want to bring the world under dictatorail rule.

  12. I'm sure 30 mins after these pics were taken, our fearless allies handed it over to the Chicoms.

  13. more importantly it flew from Kandahar? No way. this thing has line of sight communications. Wherever this thing crashed, the controllers were realatively close.

  14. Tribulationtime | August 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Reply

    Looks like "one-piece" composite wings etc. I dont see propeler. Anything looks like power unit. No more 60 pounds. A 140 number under tail. Burned above….one lighting strike!!. Cameras? without wires?. No aparente landing gear. And four holes in the belly. Wings are removables. There are a Pakistan soldier besides….Perhaps this very shorty legs thing and new shape uav spy Pakistan border troops….just in case they keep "comunications" with bad people. Why thats Bird-bot so small have so big control surfaces?. Maybe a no powered uav launched from a MH-130. Highly Speculative tale

  15. How do you mean… How it's powered? It flaps it's wings, obviously :D

  16. The UAV is man-packable. Note the breakdown "seams" along the wings, and the ease with which it's carried. Now why would someone use a manpack UAV when larger, runway UAVs have better performance in every category? Curious.

    The four empty-apetures on the bottom are really what's interesting. Most likely not four separate cameras as the author suggests, since a single wide-angle camera would do the job just fine and go easier on the limited weight budget. No – my guess is these chambers are used to deploy something to the ground – a "magazine" if you will.

  17. Looks like something someone build in their shed over a weekend.

  18. Doesn't matter whose bird it was now–it's probably in a crate on its' way to China as we speak.

  19. Ok, so we have the aftermath of the wreckage and it is quite possible and probable that the nose piece, along with and sort of propultion and even landing gear has been destroyed upon impact. However, this still looks too fishy to be any sort of American/British UAV.

  20. Pretty cool- minus the crashing- it looks like a hawk.

  21. it does look like it came from Radio Shack i am sure we only paid a billon for it

  22. From past experience with the Pakistani government; it won't be a surprise if this UAV will be given to the Chinese government for inspection as the UAV will be X-ray to determine all of the done's mechanical components before a piece will be broken off for chemical analysis and possibly a scraping of exterior paint.

  23. I hope we used a Predator to drop that in Pakistani territory just to mess with them

  24. It’s a modification of the Smart Bird made by Festo Corp.

    Cheers

  25. Obviously it’s a stealth bomber for aliens 3 inches high LOL

  26. Go Speed Racer, goooo!

  27. I think this is Brilliant…. Every time a bird is spotted somewhere the rats will run for a hole.

  28. Looks like the kiute my kids lost at Tybee Island this week, and a bunch of stuff got stuck on it as it landed in Trashpakistan!

  29. It looks like cardboard. Are we sure this thing is legit?

  30. Sure, Pakistan, sell the wreck to the Chinese. Most of the electronics in it were made there anyway.

    Chinese reverse-engineer: "This is all our stuff! We paid how much? FML."

  31. Honestly it looks like something put together by the Air Force Academy aero-lab. The cadets build rc planes that size as capstones all the time, and the uav even looks like it's made out of similiar foam that the cadets use to build their projects. I wouldn't be suprised if this uav was constructed in some small Air Force or Navy workshop using mainly off the shelf parts.

  32. It looks a little bit like a modified rifle launched tactical MicroB BlueBird Aero Systems electric UAS.

  33. In picture one, it looks like the exposed surface is desert tan? Does that mean this item is designed to blend in from above? Kind of clever.

    Wing-flapping sounds like a DARPA spin-off: fly the "bird" around, make it look like a natural bird gliding in thermals.

    The underside is even painted black in a way that suggests a smaller bird overhead.

  34. It looks like a science project. I would blame it on India but its way too far North. On Iran but its way too far West. Could be a DARPA project being tested? Would love know what the payload was – more specifically what type of sensors.

  35. Was this one Wild E. Coyote's ACME products???

  36. It looks like a newer version of the Lockheed Martin Deserthawk. They are holding it upside down. The wings should be on top. It does not flap its wings as you can see the prop housing. It is funny that all the media outlets compare it to Smartbird by Festo. While Smartbird is a good engineering prototype it is too unstable in flight to give a steady camera feed. The picture would be all over the place with each wing flap.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6QaFsY4qXE

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