An MQ-1 Predator drone crashed Thursday in Iraq but was destroyed and is not in militant hands, the Air Force said in a news release Friday.
The remotely piloted aircraft was flying a combat mission when airmen lost control of the aircraft. The craft was not hit by enemy fire, the Air Force said, but an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the crash.
The incident occurred at 12:50 p.m. local time, or 4:50 a.m. EST.
It's the first reported loss of an RPA in the new year. In the last eight months of 2015, Air Combat Command reported the loss of at least three RPA's — two in the Middle East and one in Africa.
Though still flying for hours each day, military leaders believe the MQ-1 is reaching the end of its service to the Air Force and plan to retire the aircraft in 2017.