> our title:

Part 4: Drone Myths and Facts

> original title:

Drone Myths 3 & 4: Improving Crash Rate & On Station 24/7 (excerpt)

(Source: Center For Defense Information; March 1, 2012)

Not only are drones, such as Reaper, far more expensive to buy and operate than analogous aircraft (explained here); not only are they extremely limited in searching for and identifying valid targets--significantly less so than even primitive manned aircraft (explained here); but also Reaper and Predator don't get into the air very often, and when they do, they frequently seem to end up pranged--crashed.

As many as 100, perhaps even more, Predators and Reaper may have crashed or are otherwise out of the inventory. And, the Air Force's data on flying hours suggests that a single Reaper air vehicle (or a Predator) gets into the air no more than once or twice a week.

Yet again, manned aircraft dramatically outperform these drones, on both dimensions.

The grim data on Reaper (and Predator) crashes are suggested by the the production and inventory numbers of both, and while the available data on official and publically reported "mishaps" are quite incomplete, they also suggest a real and continuing problem.

To confirm or disprove the suggested disastrous crash rate, a thorough and independent audit of each Reaper (and Predator) produced is clearly necessary. Given the unbridled advocacy of Predator and Reaper in places like the House Armed Services Committee and the other congressional "defense" committees and given the incompleteness of officially reported Air Force and DOD data, one clearly needs to look elsewhere for that job to be done, objectively and completely.

4. Keeping Track of the Drones

Predator purchases ended in 2009, with a total of 248 being bought by the Air Force.[1] Reaper purchases started in 2002, rose from four per year in 2004 to 48 per year in 2011, yielding a 108-strong Reaper fleet authorized by the end of 2010, with 48 more to be bought in both 2011 and 2012.[2]

Previous plans for combined Predator and Reaper production had been to support 65 CAPs (four air vehicles each) by 2013.[3] However, 2013 budget materials clarified that the 65 CAPs would not be complete until later, variously stated to be either 2014[4] or 2017.[5] Air Force budget documents for 2013 assert that by the end of 2011 there were 60 Predator/Reaper CAPs,[6] implying a total count of Predators and Reapers of 240. It seems like some of the Pentagon's drones are missing. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the rest of the story, on the CDI website.