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Navy drone damaged in California mishap

A drone landed on its belly after a Wednesday test flight went wrong at Naval Base Ventura County in California, officials say.

The incident occurred at 2:45 pm Wednesday at Point Mugu when an MQ-4C Triton from Florida-based Naval Air Station Jacksonville’s Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 experienced an unspecified mechanical glitch during the flight, according to a Navy press release.

“As a precautionary measure, the pilots shut down the engine and attempted to safely land the aircraft on the runway,” the release said. “The aircraft’s landing gear did not deploy and the aircraft landed on the runway with its landing gear retracted.”

The first MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle, assigned to Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19, Detachment Point Mugu, arrives at Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2017. (Public Affairs Specialist Theresa Miller/Navy)
Navy marks Triton arrival at Point Mugu

Two of the Navy’s large unmanned surveillance and patrol aircraft are now housed at a repurposed hangar at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu in Southern California.

The release didn’t dish on more details or provide a damage estimate for the drone.

Officials reported no injuries to personnel and have launched a probe to find the cause of the crash.

Established in 2013 as the Navy’s first unmanned patrol unit and commissioned four years later, the Jacksonville squadron maintains a detachment at Point Mugu for testing and training.

In July, the detachment conducted two successful Triton flights at Point Mugu. “Big Red” crews launched and recovered the aircraft in California but a team in Florida monitored and controlled the drones while they were aloft for several hours.

Despite Wednesday’s setback, VUP-19 will continue to test Tritons at Point Mugu to prepare for an eventual move to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

But officials have given no timeline for when the deployment to the Western Pacific will begin.

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