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If Anyone Finds a Large Military Drone on the East Coast, the Air National Guard Would Like It Back


“This accident may just be a wake up call."

A large military drone crashed into Lake Ontario on Tuesday, prompting a search that later had to be stopped due to weather.

So, if you've seen this unmanned aerial vehicle used by various government agencies for surveillance and reconnaissance in the lake near central New York, the Air National Guard would probably like to know.

reaper drone The MQ-9 Reaper (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

The MQ-9 Reaper went down about 20 miles north of Port of Oswego, 12 miles from the shoreline, around 1 p.m. after about three hours of flight, according to WSYR-TV.

Col. Greg Semmel, commander with the 174th Attack Wing, told the local news station there is "probably a combination of parts that may be floating and not floating." According to NBC News, Semmel said the cost of the drone is between $4 million to $5 million.

The drone flight was part of pilot trainings allowed over three area counties, which an advocacy group has fought against.

"They were very fortunate that this occurred in the lake, Lake Ontario, and not on land," Ann Tiffany with the Syracuse Peace Council told WSYR.

"There may be some less populated areas that this could take place than upstate New York," she said. “This accident may just be a wake-up call."

The Post-Standard has more on how this accident could spark more anti-drone activism:

Ed Kinane, a Syracuse peace activist, is among those who have cited the accident rate as one reason why drones should be banned from operating. He has joined dozens of local protesters opposed to the drones, operated remotely by the Air National Guard's 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field.

In an interview after today's Reaper crash, Kinane said the accident should raise important questions for Central New Yorkers.

"One of the notorious things about drones and Reapers is their high accident rate," Kinane said. "A general concern is that because the military is so in love with drones and the Reaper, it appears they have rushed these things into production."

He added, "Fortunately, there were no other aircraft or people involved today, where things might have turned out differently."

Semmel told WSYR that the drone is just as safe as any airplane and that the public "should keep the confidence in the process ongoing, with the goal of flying off of Hancock Field."

Watch the local news station's report about the incident:

Earlier this month, the 174th Attack Wing opened a new hangar for the drones at Fort Drum in Jefferson County, N.Y.

"This new hangar directly impacts the 174th Attack Wing's capability to execute daily flying operations from Fort Drum in support of the Air Combat Command's MQ-9 training syllabus, and directly impacts our ability to supply combat ready aircrew to the combatant commanders in support of worldwide operations," Semmel said in a statement, according to The Post-Standard in Syracuse.

As for the crashed Reaper, Semmel told WSYR surveillance video exists and will aid the Air Force Safety board in its investigation.

The search for parts of the drone was resuming Wednesday.

No one was injured in the accident.



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