Grim News: Reaper Down

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Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr

An Air Force MQ-9 Reaper over Afghanistan

A week after the U.S. lost a drone over the Afghan-Iran frontier, the Air Force announced Tuesday morning that one of its MQ-9 Reaper drones crashed at the Seychelles International Airport earlier in the day. “The MQ-9 was not armed and no injuries were reported,” the Air Force said in a statement.

Reapers are big (66-foot wingspan) and fast (up to 300-mph) “hunter-killer” drones that carry far more ordnance than their smaller brethren, the MQ-1 Predator (including 500-pound bombs). They’re in that part of the world to keep an eye on the Horn of Africa region, where al Qaeda offshoots have been active in Somalia and Yemen, as well as to help in anti-piracy efforts. News of the crash comes as China is weighing the possibility of hosting some of its navy vessels in a port at the Seychelles, an Indian Ocean island nation.