Air Force releases accident report

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Air Force photograph

An MQ-1B Predator remotely piloted aircraft comes in for a ‘touch-and-go’ during a training mission, May 13, 2013. The MQ-1B Predator is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and secondarily for munitions capability to support ground troops and base defense.

An MQ-1B Predator was destroyed in a Oct. 17, 2015, crash after experiencing electronic systems failure and loss of control due to a lightning strike, according to an Air Combat Command Abbreviated Accident Investigation Board report released Nov. 2.

The remotely-piloted aircraft was forward deployed from the 432nd Wing, Creech Air Force Base, Nevada and operated by a mission control element from the 20th Attack Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. at the time of the accident. When the mishap occurred, the aircraft was participating in a combat support mission in the United States Central Command area of responsibility.

According to the AAIB report, the effects of lightning induced high voltage throughout the wiring in the RPA’s wings, damaging the left and right wing control modules.  With these components inoperative, the RPA was unable to maintain controlled flight and impacted the ground. Additionally, the Board President found the pilot’s misidentification of a developing adverse weather system substantially contributed to the mishap.

The aircraft was destroyed on impact, with a loss valued at approximately $5.2 million. There were no injuries or damage to other government or private property.