WASHINGTON: An armed US Predator drone crashed in Turkey on Wednesday after apparently suffering some kind of mechanical failure, military officials said.
Captain Lauren Ott of the US Air Force’s Europe command said the drone went down in an unpopulated area of southern Turkey at around 1:40 am local time (2340 GMT).
“The aircraft was armed, but US military and Turkish officials were able to gain positive control over the ordnance and the crash site,” she said.
“The initial assessment is that the aircraft experienced mechanical failure, but a more in depth investigation will be conducted to determine the exact cause.”
The unmanned plane had been based in Turkey’s Incirlik air base. US forces have been using the geographically key facility to launch drone and warplane strikes on Islamic State targets in northern Syria and Iraq.
The incident comes after the Air Force in October lost control of two armed Predator drones in separate incidents in Turkey and Iraq.
The Predators were both carrying air-to-surface Hellfire missiles when they crashed, but these were safely recovered along with the aircraft.
Initial military accounts blamed one of the crashes on a lost link and the other on mechanical failure.
Predator drones are primarily used for reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering, but can also be armed and carry out air strikes.