According to research carried out by The Washington Post, more than 400 U.S. military drones have been involved in accidents since 2001. 194 of these have been classified as Class A accidents – destroying the aircraft or causing at least $2 million of damage.
The use of military unmanned aerial vehicles has risen steadily since the outbreak of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq so the climbing accident rate comes as little surprise. However, the fact that drones are expected to be adopted by civilians in large numbers over the coming years is certainly cause for concern.
Investigators have failed to identify the root cause of many of the military accidents since 2001 – drones have vanished in bad weather, nose-dived into the ground or plunged out of control due to mechanical/pilot error. Our of the Air Force’s 269 Predator drones, 40 percent have been lost in Class A accidents (the most severe) with a further 8 percent written off in Class B incidents.
This chart shows U.S. military drone crashes by year.
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