WASHINGTON – The U.S. Air Force recently lost control of two armed Predator drones in separate incidents in Turkey and Iraq, a U.S. military official said Wednesday.
The Predators were both carrying air-to-surface Hellfire missiles when they crashed, but these were safely recovered along with the aircraft.
In the first case on Oct. 17, a Predator crew reported a “lost link and subsequent crash while the Predator was flying southeast of Baghdad,” military spokesman Col. Steve Warren said.
Local Iraqi police recovered the drone in the vicinity of Al-Kut. They returned the aircraft to U.S. control and there were no injuries, Warren said.
Then on Oct. 19, a different Predator “crashed” in southern Turkey, Warren said. Local media have said it came down in Hatay.
“The aircraft experienced mechanical failure. The Air Force in this case maintained positive control of the aircraft and brought it down safely in an unpopulated area,” Warren said.
Again, the aircraft was returned to U.S. control. Both incidents are under investigation.
The United States is leading a 60-plus member coalition targeting Islamic State jihadis in Iraq and Syria and has been carrying out frequent warplane and drone raids for more than a year.
Turkey has permitted the United States to use a base at Incirlik in southern Turkey to conduct strikes against Islamic State.