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Air Force Drone Crashes in New Mexico

by Brendan McGarry on October 31, 2013

Holloman _MQ-1_Predator

The U.S. Air Force hasn’t yet determined what caused an MQ-1B Predator drone to crash yesterday at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, a spokeswoman said.

The unmanned aerial vehicle made by General Atomics of San Diego went down at 1:45 p.m. about six miles northwest of the airfield, according to a statement from the base. 

A spokeswoman for the 49th Wing Public Affairs office said the service hasn’t yet concluded whether the accident was caused by an aircraft malfunction or operator error. She said pictures of the destroyed drone or crash site weren’t immediately available. (The office did, however, release a picture of a “similar” drone, posted above.)

The drone was conducting a routine training mission, according to the statement. No one was injured and no private property was damaged in the accident, it stated. A board will be convened to investigate the cause of the crash, it stated.

The aircraft was assigned to the 6th Reconnaissance Squadron, part of the Air Force’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft Formal Training Unit at the 49th Wing, according to the statement.

Eighty-five of the Air Force’s Predators were destroyed in a 16-year period from fiscal 1997 through fiscal 2012, according to statistics on the Air Force Safety Center’s website. That amounts to 6.71 crashes for every 100,000 hours of flying — making the Predator’s lifetime crash rate more than double that of the F-16 fighter jet.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

blight_ October 31, 2013 at 11:39 am

"Satellite uplink lost…"

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EW3 November 1, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Would think the designers were smart enough to include an algorithm of what to do on LOS. During training missions you might expect it to try to fly home so it could revert to using the UHF control link.

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ajSpades November 1, 2013 at 4:27 pm

There are settings to do just such a thing. The article is pretty vague on what caused the crash.

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TonyC. October 31, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Drug cartel jammer?

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BarryB October 31, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Hunters 1
Air Force 0

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AC Green October 31, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Colorado Drone Hunters lol..

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JC Hates FWA October 31, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Media (Both Left and Right) will call it just another case of Drone PTSD (Here me out. Drone never went overseas or served in Kuwait) instead of the USAF just letting a Drone A-Hole into the ranks in the first place. Every service has.

P.S. This isn't a problem for just the USAF. And I'm not trying to make light of true PTSD. But I've seen cunts from Qatar try it.

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RandyD November 1, 2013 at 12:15 am

Drones are more prone to crash than manned aircraft because the pilot in a manned aircraft has more at stake. Also loss of comms in a drone means loss of control.

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Musson November 1, 2013 at 8:06 am

And, a human pilot can 'feel' the characteristics of a plane and instictively react to problems more quickly.

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hibeam November 1, 2013 at 10:33 am

Thats why human pilots flew the space shuttle into the atmosphere. The humans could "feel" their way in were as high speed computers could not.

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ajSpades November 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Depends on how your measure the crash rates.
Could measure them differently: crashes per sortie, crashes compared to fleet size, crashes per year, crashes per hour.
Each one probably shows a different sliver of the whole picture.

Loss of comms does not necessarily mean a loss of control, or a lost aircraft.

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hibeam November 1, 2013 at 12:17 am

We are just damn lucky it did not fall on illegal immigrants crossing into Nanny land.

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Rest Pal November 1, 2013 at 1:49 pm

How do you know it didn't?

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Rest Pal November 1, 2013 at 12:48 am

It's perfectly normal for US drones to crash on a regular basis. No big deal.

The F-14s, F-15s, F-16s, F-18s, F-35s, F-22s, B-1b, B-2 … all crash. Why should drones be different?

I can only hope that all crashes are reported, but I doubt it.

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Big-B November 1, 2013 at 5:22 am

Its just a drone and it was ment to be expandable. It is the first of the modern drones (able to shoot missiles, remote control via satelite from conus) and after all the crash rate is not too bad imho. Theres a learning curve and its successors will get better and better. Even with this crash rate the lost money is just a fraction of the costs for the lost F16s. Or?

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scott November 1, 2013 at 9:57 am

or what

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hibeam November 1, 2013 at 10:31 am

The pilot of course

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jeffrygammers November 1, 2013 at 12:35 pm

A while back i herd of Loaded stinger launchers stolen from a military base probly has nothing to do with this but its just a possibility after all cartels crave weapons like that

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jsallison November 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm

They’re not F’n drones. They are remotely piloted vehicles. A Sidewinder, or AMRAAM would be a drone.

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Lewis Smart November 12, 2013 at 4:23 am

What if they're on autopilot?

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Talon38C November 3, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I think the 6.71 crash statistic is a bit unfair. If I remember correctly the Predators were rushed into the conflicts before they were fully tested.

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john November 5, 2013 at 11:10 pm

what if it can be followed magnetic make it lost no north or south to easy

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