Twenty-foot-long Air Force drone found floating off the Florida Keys – months after the $600,000 craft was shot down
The picturesque waters of the Florida Keys received an unwanted visitor over the weekend when a giant orange drone was found – months after it was shot down by the U.S. Air Force.
The remote-controlled craft was reportedly found floating in the water off the Upper Keys over the weekend by boaters in the area.
The BQM-167 aerial target drone, was later confiscated by the U.S. Coast Guard and returned to the Air Force, which will repair the craft so that it my occupy the skies again.
At $570,000-a-pop, a refurbished drone would likely be considered much more economically feasible than a brand new one.
The device is used mainly for target practice.
Air Force officials said the drone appearing in Florida had been shot down back in January, according to reports.
The man who recovered the drone from the water, Steve Powers of Sea Tow-Key Largo, told the Florida Keys Keynoter newspaper that the aircraft was like nothing he had ever seen before.
Powers told the paper: ‘It’s like a big, remote-control airplane with a jet engine. I’ve never seen one like it. It’s a first for me.’
Despite it’s imposing presence, the drone is not armed, and not considered dangerous.
Lt Col Lance Wilkins, commander of the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City told the Keynoter: ‘This target is used to be shot at. It doesn’t do the shooting.’
WSVN-TV reported that the drones are usually outfitted with parachutes for recovery from the water. It’s unclear whether or not the parachute deployed.
Each one also has a phone number written on it for a civilian to call if they should find a drone.
Wilkins said that in six years of operation, only a handful are yet to be found.
Wilkins told the Keynoter: ‘Since 2007, we have launched BQM-167s over 600 times.
‘Only 16 targets have been lost, and nine of those have been found.’
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