Over the past couple of months I have regularly ended blog posts by reporting that yet another military drone had crashed. While drones are portrayed by the defence industry and many in the media as the latest ‘invincible’ super-weapon that will make us safe and secure, the reality is that they often simply fall out of the sky.
With the growing use of armed drones and the increasing pressure from some quarters to allow drones to fly in civilian airspace in the UK, the reliability and safety of drones is a key issue. Using USAF Accident Investigation Board reports, the Wikileaks War Logs and press reports I have begun a database of drone crashes since the beginning of 2007. I have not included crashes of the smaller UAV’s (sometimes called mini-UAVs) as the crash so often it would simply swamp the database (see this Australian article on mini-UAV crashes reported in the Wikileaks war logs which gives an idea of how often they crash!)
The database is almost certainly not complete as there is often no public notification when a UAV crashes. If you know of drone crashes not in the database do let me know.