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Florida wreckers came across a strange object over the weekend: a military target drone. The US Air Force uses the BQM-167A drone as a training target for weapons and missiles. However, the apparent lack of damage to the drone suggests that whoever shot the « Skeeter » drone missed it.
A Reddit user first published the discovery on March 19, claiming his Mother and his uncle found a USAF target drone on Boynton Beach. In the photo, the drone’s fuselage, wings and vertical stabilizer appear intact and there are no signs of damage.
Two fields appear near the nose that can serve as starting points for chaff and torches, with which the drone simulates an evasive enemy aircraft.
The Kratos-built BQM-167A is launched from land by rocket started. In the air, a miniature turbine engine takes over, and the drone acts as a replacement for an enemy aircraft.
The « skeeter » is 20 feet long and has a wingspan of 10.5 feet. The drone has a top speed of 698 miles per hour (Mach 0.91) and can fly from 50 feet above sea level to 50,000 feet. It can carry a variety of payloads, including a scoring system for registering electronic training hits, payloads that can be used to make the drone’s radar signature larger (to impersonate larger aircraft), electronic identifiers of friends or foes, chaff to deflect radar-guided missiles, and Torches to lure away infrared guided missiles.
The drone, which was launched from Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle, likely fell into the ocean after the turbine engine ran out of gas. If the drone participated in a training exercise where pilots tried to get hits electronically, the condition is not surprising. If live ammunition was used for the exercise, it is safe to say that the drone escaped a fiery fate only to plunge into the sea.
According to 10 News, local law enforcement officials blocked the drone from the public, citing concerns about the fuel remaining on board. Air Force personnel retrieved the drone from the beach and transported it to a safe location.
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