Today’s LA Times has an interesting article about US Predator and Reaper drone crashes compiled from Pentagon accident reports. The article reports that “thirty-eight Predator and Reaper drones have crashed during combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and nine more during training on bases in the U.S. — with each crash costing between $3.7 million and $5 million. Altogether, the Air Force says there have been 79 drone accidents costing at least $1 million each”. These reports do not, of course, include details about crashes of the CIA’s Predator’s in Pakistan.
In a sign of how touchy the General Atomics, producer of the Reaper and Predator drones are about criticism of their wonderful toy, Rear Adm. Thomas J. Cassidy Jr., President of the aircraft systems group at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in San Diego is quoted in the article saying
“These airplanes are flying 20,000 hours a month, OK? That’s a lot of flying. Some get shot down. Some run into bad weather. Some, people do stupid things with them. Sometimes they just run them out of gas.”
According to the Air Force reports, one drone crashed into a Sunni party headquarters in Mosul which must have been embarrassing. Another Predator drone was simply reported as ‘lost somewhere in Afghanistan’ after contact was lost and no wreckage found.
When one of the UK’s Reapers crashed in Afghanistan in April 2008, the SAS was sent in to recover “sensitive technology” before it was blown up. The Sun provided a helpful slideshow and report!