Monday, November 18, 2013

Guided-missile cruiser holed in 2nd drone "malfunction" of week

In the first, stateside drone crash of the week (a multimillion-dollar MQ-9 Reaper from New York's Fort Drum crashed into Lake Ontario Tuesday - the Air Force is still investigating that incident.)

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The USS Chancellorsville was using one of several different models of Northrup Grumman's BQM-74 drones (13-foot-long, wingspan nearly 6 feet) to test the ship's radar-tracking system, something done on a regular basis. 

Around 1:25 p.m. Saturday, the drone being controlled from Point Mugu suddenly veered out of control and slammed into the port side of the ship with its crew of about 300, leaving two sailors with minor burns and a 2- to 3-foot hole, officials said.

The ship returned to San Diego under its own power for damage assessment, repair, and incident investigation.  The Chancellorsville had set sail Tuesday and had been scheduled to be at sea another seven days, said Lt. Lenaya Rotklein, a spokeswoman for the U.S.Third Fleet.

The BQM-74 series is a turbojet-powered drone used to train sailors and airmen against airborne threats. Some BQM-74 series models can perform at an altitude of less than10 feet at speeds up to 525 knots, the manufacturer said. The cigar-shaped BQM-74E can stay aloft for over an hour and be launched from a ship or land-based station.


Currently, the incidents are being cast as malfunctions.  In view of Homeland Security's plans to fly drones over the homeland, one must consider that military operators have generally superior operator training and experience to civilian bureaucrats, and while equipment malfunctions are a fact of life, the possibility of hacked control systems is NOT supposed to be a weekly event.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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