An MQ-1B Predator was destroyed in a Oct. 17, 2015, crash after experiencing electronic systems failure and loss of control due to a lightning strike, according to an Air Combat Command Abbreviated Accident Investigation Board report released Nov. 2.
The remotely piloted aircraft was forward deployed from the 432nd Wing out of Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, and operated by a mission control element from the 20th Attack Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, at the time of the crash. When the crash occurred, the aircraft was participating in a combat support mission in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
According to the AAIB report, the effects of lightning induced high voltage throughout the wiring in the RPA’s wings, damaging the left and right wing control modules.
With these components inoperative, the RPA was unable to maintain controlled flight and impacted the ground. Additionally, the board president found the pilot’s misidentification of a developing adverse weather system substantially contributed to the mishap.
The aircraft was destroyed on impact, with a loss valued at approximately $5.2 million. There were no injuries or damage to other government or private property.
Press release by Headquarters ACC Public Affairs, Headquarters ACC Public Affairs, picture by U.S. Air Force photo/432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing