Home » Wars » Afghan Update » Photos: Mystery Drone Crash in Pakistan (updated)

Photos: Mystery Drone Crash in Pakistan (updated)

by John Reed on August 29, 2011

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).

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{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

RunningBear August 29, 2011 at 11:58 am

Plausible deniability; looks Pakastani to me!

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MonsterII August 29, 2011 at 12:13 pm

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.

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Tiger One August 29, 2011 at 12:31 pm

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! {:-)}

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Thomas L. Nielsen August 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm

'Scuse me, but in which of those 4 photos do you see an AK?

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Jaden August 29, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Last photo right hand side, clearly the barrel of an assault rifle, in that part of the world NO doubt an AK. Next time you want to troll take a second, take a deep breath, and punch yourself right in the face, jerk.

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blight August 29, 2011 at 3:55 pm

It's a G3.

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blight August 29, 2011 at 3:57 pm
Chimp August 30, 2011 at 5:46 am

*Could* be a QBZ-03. The slung rifle is a G3… most likely the rifle front in the last photo is also a G3.

Altro August 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm

NO doubt? Really? Maybe before calling out a "troll" you should have some idea of what they heck you're talking about.

Its a G3. Did you miss the lead photo showing the soldier standing with it on his sling?

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Thomas L. Nielsen August 30, 2011 at 1:53 am

"…..in that part of the world NO doubt an AK."

Really? That, my dear Jaden, is a license-produced (by Pakistani Ordnance Factories) Heckler & Koch G3.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MP4_a_and_G3_produced_at_POF_WAH_under_licensed.jpg).
The flash suppressor and the ring-shaped front sight cover are give-aways (compare to the rifle held by the guy in the background of the top photo – then compare to an actual AK-type rifle).

So who's trolling, and who's the jerk?

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Thomas L. Nielsen August 30, 2011 at 2:33 am

Just noticed that blight and Altro have come to the same conclusion (lesson: read ALL posts before answering!).

Glad we agree, guys.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

johnjohn September 2, 2011 at 1:53 am

Without even going into details or examining it closely, it clearly isn't an AK. The barrel, sights, and flash suppressor of an AK looks nothing like that. First picture already hinted a G3. G3s are quite common in these areas too. Now who's the jerk?

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Tee Rye August 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Regardless of weapon type, it is funny that he is pointing his rifle at the UAV.

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blight August 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm

It looks more like a relaxed stance with the weapon pointing down, but I could be wrong…?

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NeoConVet August 29, 2011 at 12:36 pm

It's Bush's fault.

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Orbry August 31, 2011 at 2:28 pm

It's Obama's fault.

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Sev August 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm

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.

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Jeff m August 29, 2011 at 11:53 pm

You would think it could explode on the way down. Looks marvelous, chinese probably bought it already. I wonder what the range is, looks like its fuel cell powered.

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Wild Bill August 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm

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

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DougieR August 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

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!

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Dan August 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

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!

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Tim August 29, 2011 at 12:52 pm

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. :)

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MCQknight August 29, 2011 at 1:03 pm
xxx August 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm

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

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Elijah August 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm

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.

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nelson davis August 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm

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

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DC2 Jennings August 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm

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

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Some guy August 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm

The article said it flew from an airbase near Spin Boldak, which is an Afghan town on the border of Pakistan. So yes, it probably was operating LOS when it crashed.

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dc2 jennings August 29, 2011 at 9:50 pm

kandahar province, my bad.

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Tribulationtime August 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm

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

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Jack August 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm

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

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tribulationtime August 30, 2011 at 8:46 am

No I mean Nothing seems mini-engine or batteries nor one mini turbine or something. Well flap…I mean very big ones compared with others UAV to same size but it not have ailerons. Overall shape not resemble a low speed high endurance typical aerodinamics. More seems a very high speed one. Look! thats windtips A good smooth feature. Thats is not weekend proyect Look! how endure the crash. A RC model broke in pieces with a breath.

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Person450 August 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm

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.

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G.B. August 29, 2011 at 4:15 pm

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

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Chops August 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm

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

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Beat china! August 31, 2011 at 2:35 pm

China is really dumb in the world. They scared of American s too smart.

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Sgy Jmack August 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm

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.

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Doug August 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm

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

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jason August 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm

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

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OMEGATALON August 29, 2011 at 6:47 pm

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.

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Sidewinder August 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm

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

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Anthonian August 29, 2011 at 7:10 pm

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

Cheers

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Tee August 29, 2011 at 8:18 pm

You could be right, the tech is there and the implications would be staggering :-)

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blight August 29, 2011 at 9:17 pm
Chimp August 30, 2011 at 4:58 am

Why would it have flaps?

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blight August 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm

If it is the smart bird, the idea would be to leverage thermals like birds to "loiter" over an area with high efficiency. The shape and behavior would also lend itself to blending in more than a Predator flying in lazy circles…

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Gary Norton August 29, 2011 at 7:20 pm

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

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Foozle August 29, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Go Speed Racer, goooo!

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paperpushermj August 29, 2011 at 8:10 pm

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

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Scott August 29, 2011 at 8:31 pm

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!

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Ruby August 29, 2011 at 8:33 pm

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

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SGT Dan August 29, 2011 at 8:59 pm

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."

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MCQknight August 30, 2011 at 1:45 am

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.

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longshadow August 30, 2011 at 8:18 am

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

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blight August 30, 2011 at 9:13 am

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.

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Tee Rye August 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm

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.

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Tee Rye August 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm

*East

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tiger August 31, 2011 at 5:50 pm

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

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Thomas L. Nielsen September 1, 2011 at 2:15 am

The complete lack of dynamite, hand grenades, anvils and humongous rubber bands makes that unlikely :-)

Unless the Pakistanis removed these before the pictures were taken ("Aha! One of those new US produced ACME Stealth Anvils – our Intelligence Service will give me a medal for bringing this in…..").

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Birdwatcher January 25, 2012 at 5:45 am

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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Bill August 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm

The superman camouflage was much more popular.

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Brian Black August 30, 2011 at 7:03 am

It has the pointy, swept back wings and fan tail of a falcon. They maybe should have gone for something bigger, an eagle or vulture perhaps.

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crackedlenses August 29, 2011 at 5:01 pm

LOL!

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John M August 29, 2011 at 7:13 pm

yea. What else could it be. Hee-hee

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blight August 29, 2011 at 11:20 pm

How cool. Never heard of it…and it would explain a lot about the UAV force. Use "birds" to fly around innocuously, then a Predator swoops in and drops a Hellfire.

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blight August 30, 2011 at 7:24 am

Thought they had that bell-shape in the flash suppressor, whereas the G3's was cylindrical all the way.

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blight August 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm

In the interest of educating the more reflexive readers of DefTech, I posted the AKM and the AK-47, plus a FN-FAL as they also find themselves in far corners of the world. And the G3.

If their flash suppressors looked similar the identification might have become trickier…

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