20 US military drones inexplicably crashed during 2015, and the Pentagon refuses to say why, The Washington Post reports. Half of the unmanned aerial vehicles involved are the US’s new Reaper drone, which cost $14 million (£9.8 million) each. The other 10 accidents involved the older Predator drone.
Unconfirmed rumours suggest that the Reaper could be experiencing problems with its starter generator, since that problem was detected after six crashes prior to 2014. “We’re looking closely at that to determine what is the core issue there,” Lt. Gen. Robert P. Otto, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence and Surveillance Programs for the US Air Force, acknowledged.
“Once the battery’s gone, the airplane goes stupid and you lose it,” Colonel Brandon Baker, Chief of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Capabilities Division, added. “Quite frankly, we don’t have the root cause ironed out just yet.”
The Pentagon has not confirmed nor denied that the starter generator is responsible for the spike in drone crashes last year, refusing to comment on the matter and failing to officially report many of the 20 crashes in 2015. Despite this, it is known that military engineers have been desperately investigating a potential fix for the problem for over a year, with rumours that every military UAV in operation will require upgraded starter generators.