The Air Force is acknowledging an RQ-4 Global Hawk crashed off the coast of Spain in June — about 2 ½ months after the remotely piloted aircraft plunged into the ocean.
Air Force spokesman Maj. Ken Scholz said Friday that the Global Hawk crashed in the Gulf of Cadiz, near Rota, Spain at about 11 a.m. on June 26 and was soon recovered by personnel from the Air Force and the Navy. The crash was first reported on Wednesday by The Drive.
While the Air Force usually announces mishaps that result in the loss of an aircraft, this crash was not publicly acknowledged by the service until The Drive’s defense blog The War Zone began inquiring about it.
“Due to operational concerns, a statement was not made at the time of the incident,” Scholz said.
Scholz said that no personnel were involved in the crash, and nobody was harmed.
The number of drone accidents over the past five to six years has remained steady, but the rate of crashes seems to be decreasing, data on aviation mishaps shows.
The Global Hawk was assigned to, and operated by, the 348th Reconnaissance Squadron at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, which is part of the 69th Reconnaissance Group, Scholz said. He would not say where the RQ-4 took off from, where it was headed, or what its mission was due to security concerns.
A safety investigation is ongoing, Scholz said.
The USNS Arctic, a supply-class fast combat support ship, responded and helped recover the Global Hawk, Scholz said. A KC-135 from the 100th Air Refueling Wing at Zaragoza air base in Spain also launched to help with the recovery.