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BAMS Down in Maryland

A version of the Navy's RQ-4 Broad Area Maritime Surveillance drone crashed yesterday afternoon in a marsh in Maryland during a test flight out of Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

No one knows the cause of the crash yet but the jet that crashed is a demonstrator version of BAMS, which is the Navy variant of Northrop Grumman's 44-foot long RQ-4 GLobal Hawk high-altitude spy jet that the Air Force operates.

I bet we'll hear about incidents like this more often as some of the drones deployed to the Middle East trickle back to the United States as the war in Afghanistan winds down. Why? Well, drone crash rates are still high above those of manned military aircraft (look it up here). Hopefully the Pentagon can find a way to lower those rates by the time UAVs are cleared to fly in civil airspace later this decade.

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