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Another MQ-1 Predator Drone Crashes in the Middle East

A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator drone crashed after takeoff from Incirlik Air Force Base, Turkey, on Monday -- just four days after the same type of unmanned aerial vehicle crashed in the same region.

In both instances, the aircraft departed the Turkish base in the morning, and crashed shortly after near near Adana. There were no civilian or military injuries in either crash, the Air Force said.

"U.S. Air Force and Turkish personnel are working hand in hand to keep local citizens safe and to recover the aircraft," Col. Michael Rimsky, 39th Air Base Wing vice commander, said of the mishap.

"Our goal is to minimize the impact to our host nation partners while continuing to meet mission requirements," he added.

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The MQ-1 has proved itself as a strike and surveillance platform -- flying an average of 20 hours per mission -- especially early in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the news of the back-to-back crashes comes amid the Air Force's ongoing transition to officially retire the MQ-1 in 2018.

The General Atomics made-unmanned aerial vehicle has been in service for more than 20 years.

A list of recent MQ-1 crashes, per Air Combat Command:

  • An MQ-1B Predator was destroyed in a Oct.17, 2015 crash south of Baghdad, Iraq, after experiencing electronic systems failure and loss of control due to a lightning strike. (Loss total: $5.2 million).
  • An overheated engine brought down a MQ-1B Predator over Turkey while the drone was collecting intelligence on the Islamic State Oct. 19, 2015. (Loss total: $4.66 million).
  • An MQ-1B crashed Jan. 7, 2016 in the Central Command area of responsibility after an anomaly within the flight computer commanded the aircraft to crash. (Loss total: $5.1 million).
  • A lost datalink and the crew's misperception of the aircraft's flight control settings caused an MQ-1B to crash on March 8, 2016 in CENTCOM AOR. (Loss total: $4.2 million).
As the service slowly begins to phase out the Predator, the larger, more lethal MQ-9 Reaper is stepping up its missions, especially in Afghanistan, according to recent statistics provided to Military.com.

Officials have noted that weather is key to keeping both platforms accessible and operational.

"We ... make sure we're in our limits of taking off, and what weather we're flying into," said Capt. Mike, an MQ-1 pilot with the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance and Attack Squadron.

Military.com spoke with the commander and a pilot with the squadron, part of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, on a recent trip to the Middle East. The Air Force requested last names not be used due to safety concerns amid ongoing air operations against ISIS.

Lt. Col. Jason, commander of the 46th ERAS, added the unit -- which operates both the MQ-1 and MQ-9 -- has had issues with overheating on the aircraft.

"That's why it's good to have other locations, so if we're not able to safely launch and recover here, hopefully another location can," he said.

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