NANTICOKE, Md. - A Navy drone aircraft crashed on Maryland’s Eastern Shore on Monday without injuries or property damage on the ground, officials said.
The 44-foot plane on a routine training flight crashed around noon near Bloodsworth Island, across the Chesapeake Bay from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, according to Jaime Cosgrove, a spokeswoman for the Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons program.
Aerial video from WBOC-TV showed a plane-shaped indentation surrounded by burning debris at the swampy crash site. The cause is being investigated and the Coast Guard has set up a safety zone around the crash site, officials said.
The Northrop Grumman RQ-4A BAMS-D drone has a range of 10,500 nautical miles and can reach 11 miles above the ground. It can stay in the air for more than 30 hours with speeds up to 391 miles per hour, according to the Navy.
The drone is operated by a crew of four on the ground. It is one of five acquired from the Air Force that support more than half of maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems.
They have flown more than 5,500 hours in support of combat operations since 2008. The surveillance aircraft have been used in support of the Fifth Fleet, which covers much of the Middle East, including the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and part of the east African coast.
The southern Maryland station at the mouth of the Patuxent River, 65 miles southeast of Washington, is home to the Navy’s test pilot school, drone operations, and principal research center for aircraft and support systems.