US military has managed to crash more than 400 drones in the past 13 years

More than 400 large US military drones have crashed around the world in the past 13 years, a Washington Post investigation has found.

The Post obtained documents detailing accidents including collisions with homes, farms, runways, roads, waterways and even an air force transport plane in midair. Several drones vanished while at cruising altitude and were lost.

In April, an army drone crashed next to an elementary-school playground in Pennsylvania; in 2012 an unmanned navy surveillance aircraft nose-dived and ignited a wildfire in Maryland.

Of the 418 major drone crashes since September 2001 that the newspaper identified, about half happened in Iraq and Afghanistan and nearly a quarter were in the US. Almost 200 of the crashes were classed by the military as “class A”, meaning they destroyed the aircraft or caused at least $2 million worth of damage, though no loss of life was attributed to the accidents. Problems included pilot error, mechanical failure and communications challenges.

Though unmanned aircraft have long been used by the US military in overseas operations and by US border patrol, their safety is of particular concern as they are set to become a common feature of civilian life in America within a couple of years…

Congress told the Federal Aviation Administration to come up with a plan allowing commercial drones access to US airspace by September 2015, but the agency is unlikely to meet that deadline given the complexity of drafting safety regulations.

I’m only addressing the question of small civilian drones.

Think of all the things that can go wrong just because amateurs are farting around with devices that can get into real trouble. In most states, RC planes are controlled by state and local regulations. There are limitations to how and when and where they can be flown.

Right now, it’s legally a hobby. One I might even enjoy myself. But, I don’t think the wildlife and especially the raptors and snakes we specialize in watching in the bosque would appreciate the more-or-less-synchronized noise of several small-displacement rotors buzzing over their turf while they try to live a normal day hunting for their next meal.

There are beaucoup useful and productive tasks small unmanned vehicles can accomplish. The same is true for casual or professional creative work. Licensed, insured, flown by operators of proven ability. Keep on rocking in the Free World.

10 thoughts on “US military has managed to crash more than 400 drones in the past 13 years

  1. Nikohl Vandel says:

    =) well, you know, like spoiled 7 year olds who just get new toys bought whenever they get broken, they REALLY don’t need to know how to cherish life or its many different kinds of manifestations. what do you do with those of a wasteful, destructive nature? #StopFUNDINGtheMadness #groundthedrones #makelovenotwar =)

    • eideard says:

      Har. Already in the hopper.

      Having a discussion first with my father-in-law who’s here with his fifth-wheeler. Used to be a sales engineer for Anaconda copper and cable.

  2. Smedley Butler says:

    “Truck-Mounted Cannon Can Shoot Drones Out of the Sky” See also in which the Chief executive of France’s defense giant Thales, which manufactures the RAPIDFire system, describes how the company plans to defy downturns in defence spending by focusing on civilian markets.

  3. Lil' Spooky says:

    K-MAX ends Afghanistan deployment, USMC studies data (7/24/14) Rear Adm. Mathias Winter, head of the Naval Air System Command’s (NAVAIR) Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons (PEO(U&W)) reportedly manages a $46 billion program. The official logo of the PEO(U&W):

  4. Bendover says: “…U.S. government agencies, including the Forest Service, contract with aerial-surveillance companies for manned aircraft that carry surveillance equipment similar to much of that used on the Predator B drones. Those agencies typically pay $1,500 to $2,000 per flight hour for such services — or from an eighth to a fifth of the $12,255-an-hour the Inspector General said it costs CBP {Customs and Border Protection} to fly its Predator B drones.” “…Industry insiders and security analysts say that alternatives to the drones get short shrift because the government’s contracting and acquisition system tilts towards large military contractors whose heavy lobbying can define contracts in ways that favor them. “People with lobbying access can define the requirements that determine the contract,” said Brian Whiteside, a pilot who has worked with several aerial-surveillance companies. “It’s lead time, networks, connections, access; if you’re a small business, you’re not going to survive.”
    “The Predator B drone and its marine variant, the Guardian, are made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., of Poway, Calif., an affiliate of General Atomics. General Atomics and GAAS spent nearly $2.4 million lobbying in 2005, when they won their first CBP contract, according to disclosure forms filed with the government. Since then, the two affiliates have spent more than $23 million more on lobbying, while winning sole-source, non-competitive contracts in 2007 and 2012. Officials at GAAS declined to be interviewed.”

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