Officials at the 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse have suspended training flights of the Reaper drone, pictured above, following the crash of a drone Tuesday in Lake Ontario. The drones fly over a wide swath of Upstate New York.
A Coast Guard helicopter and search vessel were unable to recover the $4 million drone, which crashed about 1 p.m. Tuesday, and were forced to call off the search late in the afternoon because of bad weather, said Col. Greg Semmel, commander of the 174th Attack Wing of the Air National Guard.
Semmel said he did not know what caused the accident. A safety investigation board appointed by Air Force commanders based in Langley, Va., will investigate the incident. Semmel estimated the investigation could take a month or so to complete.
No decision has been made yet on when Reaper training flights will resume, Semmel said. He emphasized that the unmanned combat aircraft, which was introduced by manufacturer General Atomics in 2007, has a good safety record.
The MQ-9 Reaper, which has a range of 1,878 miles. The aircraft weighs 4,900 pounds empty, and nearly twice that much when fully fueled.
Critics say the drones have a high rate of accidents.