An unmanned Northrop Grumman RQ-4 broad area maritime surveillance demonstrator (BAMS-D) that belongs to the US Navy has crashed in Salisbury, Maryland, 35km (22 miles) from the Navy's primary flight test base at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.
"The operator lost contact with the aircraft, and shortly after a manned aircraft in the area confirmed that aircraft was down," says the Navy. The aircraft was reportedly on a routine training flight, but the Navy could not immediately provide further details.
The aircraft was one of five converted from US Air Force (USAF) RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 10s to demonstrate technologies for a similar production model, Several Global Hawks and derivatives have crashed since the type's debut. The latest incident, caused by a loose connecter, occurred on 20 August, 2011 in Afghanistan. Three of the remaining BAMS-D aircraft are at Patuxent River, while one is deployed to the Middle East.
"Northrop Grumman is working closely with the U.S. Navy to determine the cause of the incident near Naval Air Station Patuxent River," says the manufacturer. "The Navy is conducting an investigation into the incident and Northrop Grumman cannot provide further information at this time."
The Navy has 68 production MQ-4Cs on order, the first of which will be formally unveiled on 14 June.