Air Force Drone Crashes in New Mexico


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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