Airforce Drones Had Record Number of Crashes Last Year | World Defense

Airforce Drones Had Record Number of Crashes Last Year

Redheart

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Air Force drones had a record number of crashes last year

The Air Force has a huge drone problem that's costing the military division a pretty penny. A total of 20 drones were completely destroyed or sustained at least $2 million in damages when they crashed in 2015, according to The Washington Post. That's the highest number of mishaps within a year so far, over twice the number of accidents in 2014. Half of those incidents involve the military's favorite surveillance and airstrike machine, the Reaper drone, which costs the Pentagon $14 million each when fully loaded.

Investigators believe the downed Reapers crashed due to electrical problems caused by a faulty starter-generator, among other "manufacturing quality issues." They were even able to point out the three parts of the generator most prone to conking out. Problem is, they can't figure out why. It's not only the Reaper that's suddenly been falling out of the skies, though. The Predator, the Reaper's cheaper ($4 million) predecessor, has also been getting into accidents recently. Incidents involving the Predator make up the other half of the 20 incidents last year -- the photos of one particular crash in Iraq even made the rounds on social media.

Despite the increase in drone crashes, there's been no reported human casualty directly caused by these incidents. The machines have a battery that can power them for one more hour, and their pilots can use that time to steer them towards unpopulated locations. Still, this is a huge problem for the military's drone operations, especially since it also desperately needs more pilots. General Atomics (Reaper's and Predator's creator) is already done developing a more robust starter-generator, WP says. But for now, the Air Force has been fitting its existing Reapers with back-up batteries that give them 10 extra hours to make it to an airfield.
 

Corzhens

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Are air force drones ill-equipped with their flying machine? Yesterday I saw on tv a local invention called flying advertisement. The shape is like an open book with a motor inside which makes it fly. The demo testing was quite good but the inventor admitted that it cannot fly on windy days for it is susceptible to mishaps. Maybe that's the same with those drones which are accident prone - the lack of control when there is wind.
 

rz3300

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I would only say that it is a matter of time before these are operating at full efficiency. They are still relatively new to the market, and just let the military have their way with them for a couple of years and they will be full of features and doing things that we never knew that they could do. The size of defense contracts are just too big to have some faulty products out there.
 

djordjem87

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I agree with someone's comment about letting the military to deal with this. They have almost limitless funds and when something is considered to be a slightest priority it is usually taken care of. I believe it can be wind but it can also be something else like the investigators said. The electrics for example. It can also be that something is causing the glitch and the problem with the starter. Maybe somebody or a device...
 

vegito12

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I think that it is shocking that there have been many crashes and more research is needed which will show what is going to help fix the issues which will help make the next drones more stable and have less incidents as 20 drones in one year had problems which is shocking and there could be internal issues which can make the drone suffer while flying in the air or being controlled. When it is a glitch then it will mean that there are some issues which need to be resolved and the military will need to fix this and spend the money they have on the drones, and hope this will give some comfort that the new drones will have better software and designed properly. I reckon that the costs can be recovered which was lost due to the damage of the drones during the flying session and a defect could of been in the drones which may make the military see what they should do next time when flying the drones.
 

xTinx

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There's too much experimenting on the use of drones lately. Shouldn't they first ensure that the drones are safe to use on missions before deploying them anywhere for whatever purpose they may serve the military? Safety has taken the backseat as everyone is bent on one-upping the opponent.
 

silentwarfare

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Technically, they should ensure they are safe before they use them or make them go live. Unfortunately, they put the cart before the horse on just about everything. So they're going to release drones first from contractors who win the contract for a machine, and then if it crashes and burns they scratch their heads and wonder why, but they still get paid for it since the American people are footing the bill for it all. But that's not even the biggest concern with this.

The problem with unlimited funds and unlimited resources is that the time needed to work out the bugs and fix things before they are released is not limited. They often try to rush things, and the results are disastrous when the deadline and meeting it are more important than the safety and long-term use of sensitive equipment that is mission-critical on a tour or anywhere else.

People who criticize the military for this need to fairly understand and criticize Google exactly the same way. Their automatic car has had just as many if not more problems and crashes than the military drones have. The military will at least fix things after the fact if they have to or see a problem that is more important than the funds spent to repair a large machine, but Google doesn't even do that even though they are now providing stuff for the military through the companies they bought out like Boston Dynamics.

Google just pays the politicians and the right people are put in places for road safety, and then next thing you know all the people who used to protect human beings from the misuse of a vehicle on the road are suddenly giving the ok for imperfect crashing machines to roll into other cars and pedistrians while on the road.

The military drones are a problem, and I wish they would fix the way they approach them first so that they don't have to spend so much to fix them later. But anymore, I see Google as much of a threat to civilian life with their plans as errant drones are to military personnel.
 

explorerx7

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This is a costly teething problem. However, we should not be unduly alarmed. Almost all types of new innovations go through this process of trial and error. I can almost guarantee that very soon we will see these machines being perfected, enabling them to effectively fulfill the requirements.
 
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