Customs and Border Protection (CBP) last Friday evening said one of its surveillance drones experienced a nose-wheel collapse after touching down that day, resulting in a hard-landing and extensive damage.
A CBP spokesperson on Tuesday told Defense Daily the damaged drone is a Guardian unmanned aircraft system, which is a maritime variant of the MQ-9 Predator B built by General Atomics. Damage to the aircraft is still being assessed, the spokesperson said.
The aircraft had just returned from a 10-hour operational patrol and was being flown by a pilot on site at Mathis Field, San Angelo Regional Airport, Texas, where the accident occurred. After the hard-landing, the Guardian went off the runway and came to rest in the grass, CBP said. There were no injuries.
CBP’s Office of Air and Marine Operations will pause flight operations at San Angelo until further notice.
The UAS (CBP213) was delivered to CBP in October 2011.
Including the damaged UAS, CBP has nine MQ-9 Predator B systems, four of which are Guardian variants.
The Guardian can remain aloft for 20 hours and fly at an altitude of 50,000 feet. The Guardian modifications include structural, avionics and communications enhancements, a Raytheon Technologies [RTX] SeaVue marine search radar, and an electro-optical-infrared sensor optimized for maritime operations.