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Shadow down: Marine drone lands in North Carolina river

A Marine Corps drone went down in a North Carolina river last week after the engine was cut and the unmanned aircraft parachuted into the water.  The Marine Corps splashed one of its drones Thursday morning.

At approximately 9:28 a.m. on Sept. 10, an The unarmed RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operated by the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing made a forced landing in the Neuse River, just north of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, at about 9:28 a.m.on Sept. 10., North Carolina

Members of Marine Unmanned Vehicle Squadron 2 personnel were conducting local familiarization training with the aircraft when they were forced to "ditch" it in the water, said 1st according to VMU-2 public affairs officer First Lt. Maida Kalic, a spokeswoman for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

"Ditching" is the technical term the service uses employed by the Marine Corps to describe "a planned event in which a flight crew knowingly makes a controlled emergency landing in water."

"Every time an RQ-7B flies, part of the mission planning process is to designate a pre-planned safe landing or ditching area," Kalic told Marine Corps Times.

In the event control of the drone is lost, it is programmed to automatically fly to the location, cut the engine and parachute down.

"In this context, we do not know what the cause of the mishap was, however the proper procedures for 'ditching' were executed," Kalic.

The $750,000 aircraft was recovered and returned to the unit following a six-hour search and rescue effort by Cherry Point and U.S. Navy personnel.

The exact cause of the incident is currently under investigation, and it is not yet known whether it will return to service. No loss of life, injury or other property damage were reported in the accident.

VMU-2 has operated the Shadow since 2007, when it transitioned from the RQ-2 Pioneer UAV.

The 11-foot-long RQ-7B Shadow, produced for the military by Textron Systems, has a gross weight of 375 pounds and a 14-foot wingspan and an approximate length of 11 feet.

It is primarily employed to provide tactical reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting and damage assessment.

In a June 2014 investigation, the Washington Post reported that more than 400 military drones have crashed around the world since 2001, due to a combination of pilot error, mechanical defects, unreliable communication and limited detection systems.

In April 2014, On April 13th, 2014, a Shadow operated by the Pennsylvania National Guard crashed outside of an elementary school in Union Township, Pennsylvania.

That drone was rendered permanently inoperable when an oncoming vehicle ran over it and broke its wing.

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