back to article US military drone goes AWOL, ends up crashing into tree 623 miles away

The US Army is investigating how one of its drones took an unplanned 623-mile excursion and ended up stuck in a tree two states away. The Shadow RQ-7 drone was launched by soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade of the 7th Infantry Division during a training mission in Arizona at 17:16 local time. It was supposed to provide the …

  1. Nik 2

    ICBM, Vx, now this?

    Damn those crazy Norks and their 'practical joke of the week' stunts.

    1. kain preacher

      Re: ICBM, Vx, now this?

      oops.

  2. kain preacher
  3. J.Smith

    The Shadow

    No-one knows when and where The shadow will appear...

    1. MrT

      Re: The Shadow

      Of course it ended up in a tree - that's where squirrels live. After all, it is The Shadow, and it never misses...

      I wonder if this one had 'Amy Hardwick' on the nose art?

      1. ElectricFox
        Black Helicopters

        Re: The Shadow

        It was coming after the squirrel's nuts!

  4. frank ly

    Many years ago ....

    .... I speculated that a truly intelligent weapon system would run/fly away and hide in a tree. My colleagues at the time said I was being silly. Ha!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Alert

      Re: Many years ago ....

      Was it truly intelligent to damage itself, then get found by a hiker?

      That would be a genuine question if I believed in the "Evil Genius" of Frankenstein or so many Cold War Era stories. But I've seen just enough to appreciate that the genius of the military lies in shrouding your embarrassing failures in secrecy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Many years ago ....

        > Was it truly intelligent to damage itself, then get found by a hiker?

        First thing it did was build a replica of itself, then ensure the replica was found.

        Now it's continuing it's clandestine world domination from the shadows...

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Many years ago ....

      Rumours that the clandestine Project Yossarian (run by Milo Minderbinder) is behind this are unsubstantiated. And there was definitely not a naked man in the tree.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. MyffyW Silver badge

          Re: Many years ago ....

          @Symon "That's some catch". Still what's good for M & M Enterprises is good for the country ...

    3. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: Many years ago ....

      I guess that they shouldn't have made it watch "Catch 22" the night before sending it off on its mission.

  5. John Arthur
    Thumb Up

    Impressive!

    If that is the same as the drone in the picture a range of 623 miles is pretty impressive!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Impressive!

      I suspect they're now no longer permitted to launch any inside a 700 mile radius of the White House, the Pentagon, Trump Tower or Mar a Lago..

      1. anody

        Re: Impressive!

        "I suspect they're now no longer permitted to launch any inside a 700 mile radius of the White House, the Pentagon, Trump Tower or Mar a Lago.."

        Naaa, if it wasn't reported by FoxNews then it didn't really happen, so they should be OK...

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Impressive!

      Scharre noted that the case illustrated some of the problems with deploying semi-autonomous systems in comparison to manned military units.

      It is a drone repeat of this incident: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Belgian_MiG-23_crash

      Thankfully, with a happier ending.

      So the fact that a pilot is onboard is not a guarantee that an aircraft will not fly in an unexpected direction until it runs out of fuel (we were lucky in 1989, if that happened let's say 5 years earlier we could have had WW3).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Impressive!

        > It is a drone repeat of this incident:

        > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Belgian_MiG-23_crash

        >

        >Thankfully, with a happier ending.

        Unless you're a tree.

  6. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Tsk, tsk

    Better headline:

    "Arizona bombs Colorado, narrowly misses Denver"

    I have my resume in to The Verge...

    "Imagine a soldier on Fort Huachuca getting lost doing land navigation," Scharre added. "He's not going to keep going and wander into Colorado."

    He's obviously not seen me without GPS support...

  7. bep

    Mortars

    No wonder that trial with the Marines didn't work. I mean, mortars are pretty heavy, but you'd have to score a direct hit to do any damage; mortar bombs, on the other hand...

    1. CraPo

      Re: Mortars

      With or without the pestle?

  8. lawndart

    Presumably the US military don't use a version of PANTS. Either that or they installed some tree-balancing code written by a programmer attempting to enter the country and the drone tried to knock a tree over.

  9. Blofeld's Cat
    Coat

    Hmm...

    Probably used the same destination planning software as the budget airlines.

    "We will shortly be landing at London (Luton) Phoenix (Denver) ..."

  10. JLV

    >This would not happen with a person unless they went crazy or defected.

    Stranger things...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Belgian_MiG-23_crash

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    That tree was obviously using techniques gleaned from the Monty Python book of How not to be Seen.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Shadow Drone...

    Brought to you by the good people who make the British Trident missile!

  13. Captain DaFt

    OK then

    A war drone goes awol, travels to a state where marijuana is legal, and is found high (in a tree).

    Suddenly the ROTM looks much less menacing.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Drain the swamp

    Wikipedia says the cost is only $750,000 per unit (not including support systems) not 1.5M. Still a massive rip-off.

  15. ammabamma
    Joke

    El Reg commentard sees the problem, no need for a $$$BILLION review

    > Instead, the $1.5m drone pulled a sharp right turn and headed off into New Mexico

    > pulled a sharp right turn

    > sharp right turn

    > right turn

    The drone should have taken a left turn at Albuquerque...

    1. DropBear

      Re: El Reg commentard sees the problem, no need for a $$$BILLION review

      So is this one of those "uninitialised but active" waypoint things where my GPS insists I'm right off the coast of Africa (0,0 presumably) right up until it finally gets a lock...?

    2. Swarthy Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: El Reg commentard sees the problem, no need for a $$$BILLION review

      It did. It took a sharp right turn into New Mexico, and then went north, to Colorado. So the only thing it did do correct was to make the left at Albuquerque.

  16. ITS Retired

    The drone software was upgraded

    to Windows 10. Its computer was rebooting after launching. After the reboot, it forgot where it was suppose to go.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The drone software was upgraded

      It took 16 hours to reboot.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's the GPS

    ... darn sensitive components, easily gets off target because of vibration or even high RF. I lost my (consumer) drone this way *sob*

  18. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Holmes

    Defect(ed)

    "This would not happen with a person unless they went crazy or defected. "

    Maybe it wanted out of the army, preferring loitering on a beach in Mexico, and its nav software found New Mexico as its first match*

    * any nav system user can tell you you need to switch countries first when you're trying to find an address across the border.

  19. seven of five

    Stryker?

    Str_y_ker? With a "y" Since when are the Army fucking Hipsters? Pardon me, Hypsters, obviously...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Alister

        Re: Stryker?

        Nah, it's better than that, it's Ed Stryker, from S.H.A.D.O

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Uncle Slacky

        Re: Stryker?

        Over Macho Grande?

        1. User McUser

          Re: Stryker?

          Over Macho Grande?

          No. I don't think I'll ever get over Macho Grande...

    2. Kevin Johnston

      Re: Stryker?

      and there was me thinking the unit takes their name from the vehicles they use. You know, the ones named after two Medal of Honor winners named Stryker, one from WW2 and one from Vietnam

      To be fair I thought it was a person and not two but I did at least know that much and I am a UK citizen with no military experience. Probably down to the books I read that I know this stuff

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    I can only presume

    the app they were using was waiting for them to re-enter their Google credentials, in order for Maps to update.

  21. Anonymous Coward
  22. werdsmith Silver badge

    A 12 year old in a bedroom somewhere hacked this and tried to fly it home.

    1. Haku

      D.A.R.Y.L.?

  23. Avatar of They
    Meh

    Flying distance isn't known?

    I would suggest the distance between airport and the tree for a starter.

  24. Just a geek
    Thumb Up

    Maybe this is drone sentience and it was trying to flee Trump's administration?!

  25. Hans 1
    Happy

    Why did the bloke who found it return it ???

    I would take it home, wait a year, then disassemble, reverse engineer ... fun personal projects ... until NCIS kick my front door in ... all a lot of fun ... Sir, I found it in a tree, I like drones, this one looked cool, you lost it, I found it, been a year, it's mine, now, good bye!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I found it, been a year, it's mine, now, good bye....

      ....cruel world, the MiB have got me, oh god, I'll never be seen again! Noooooo! I didn't mean to take it! I thought it was a kite! Don't put me in the tank of water! Bluglugloopp......Aaaarrrggggghhhh! I won't do it ag.....bluglugbloopblug....

      And so on.

  26. AceRimmer1980
    Terminator

    At least it wasn't armed.

    That could have bad reapercussions

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least it wasn't armed.

      Pity it wasn't armed, and didn't fly south over the border. Now THAT would have created a fine pickle for The Orange to get himself out of.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "the distance to the crash site was achievable"

    Stating the bleedin' obvious.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a new phenomena

    Drones have done stupid things since they were first used. Exhibit A, milud, "The Super-Stupid Water Bug", a drone used in Vietnam that would always, ALWAYS, overfly the programmed landing site and end up in the nearest body of water...

  29. Stevie

    Bah!

    How is dropping mortars by drone a good idea? The enemy will simply dodge them and then pick them up and use them to shoot back.

    What they need to do is drop some sort of explosive munition. I expect better use of resources from the USMC.

  30. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Maybe..

    .. it was heading north for the summer? Escaping to Canada to avoid Trumpistan?

    Maybe it's time for Disney[1] to make a new film: "The Little Drone that Couldn't".

    [1] Every time I type that I have flashbacks to Glasgow..

  31. Col_Panek

    Almost invaded Canuckistan

    There's one at the bottom of Lake Ontario, not far from the army's Fort Drum. It was headed for the border ...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well...

    Fuck that tree!

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