The U.S. Navy says one of its high-altitude drones suffered substantial damage during a takeoff attempt that occurred in the Middle East last month.
The service's RQ-4A Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Demonstration (BAMS-D) struck some debris during takeoff, resulting in damage to the unmanned aircraft's port side, U.S. 5th Fleet said in a statement Thursday. The mishap occurred on Nov 26. USNI News was first to report the incident.
The aircraft was taking off to support operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, the statement said. No personnel were injured. USNI, citing documents related to the event, said the damage was classified as a Class A mishap, which could involve fatalities, severe damage totaling $2 million or more or a complete loss of the aircraft.
The drone is used by the Air Force and Navy and is capable of flying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions upward of 65,000 feet.
In 2015, the aircraft, which can fly long distances over water and along coastlines, cost $123 million, according to Defense Department budget documents. Its value has risen to roughly $180 million, according to USNI.
The Navy only has a handful of the modified BAMS-D aircraft that the service procured from the Air Force. The Air Force calls the drone the Global Hawk.
While officials didn't disclose where the RQ-4 was launched from, Military.com in 2017 observed RQ-4 Global Hawks at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates. The base has a handful of Global Hawks varying in capability, some belonging to the Navy.
The drone is the same type as the one taken out by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while it operated in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz in June.
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.