Officials: Lost signal caused Predator to veer off runway

From the Clovis News Journal - Officials at Cannon Air Force Base said they’re not sure why they lost the link from ground control to an MQ-1 Predator, but that’s why the $4.5 million aircraft turned off the runway and plowed through a fence Wednesday morning. Col. James C. Slife, 27th Special Operations Group commander, said all personnel involved with the unmanned aircraft’s operation are highly qualified. He said while the aircraft has multiple fail-safe options should there be a disconnect between ground controllers and the plane while in the air, none of those options are available to personnel while the plane is on the ground. Slife said a safety investigation is continuing and no one was injured in the crash. Predator crashes have plagued the Air Force for some time. In a March 2009 New York Times story, the Air Force acknowledged more than a third of their unmanned Predator spy planes had crashed, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cannon officials said in a Wednesday afternoon the plane was assigned to Cannon’s 3rd Special Operations Squadron. Read more


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