An Army drone flew 600 miles astray then crashed into a tree

The rogue RQ-7 flew all the way from a base in Arizona to central Colorado.

Sponsored Links

Tom Regan
March 2, 2017 3:43 PM
In this article: drones, gear, military, robots, rq-7
PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images
PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images

A routine military drone test quickly turned into something more bizarre, after the missing aircraft mysteriously turned up ten days later over 600 miles away. While testing an RQ-7 "Shadow" drone at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, the military lost control of the device soon after launch. After it failed to return to base, the Army presumed that it had quickly been destroyed until a hiker found it crashed into a tree in Evergreen, Colorado.

While the story doesn't sound that odd on the surface, the $1.5 million unmanned drone is meant to stay within 77 miles of its C-band line-of-sight data link. With the rogue RQ-7 traveling over 8 times that distance, investigators are still struggling to explain its incredible journey. Data recovered from the free-spirited drone showed it reached an altitude of 12,000 feet, enabling it to soar over the Rocky Mountains.

Like most drones, the military's are equipped with a failsafe, meaning that in the case of an error they fly back to their operators. Yet, for whatever reason, this little RQ-7 didn't.

Correction: An earlier version of this post indicated Fort Huachaca is located in New Mexico, instead of Arizona.

Turn on browser notifications to receive breaking news alerts from Engadget
You can disable notifications at any time in your settings menu.
Not now

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at the time of publishing.
View All Comments
An Army drone flew 600 miles astray then crashed into a tree