Update:- Images of the damaged C130 21:47 16/8
By NATHAN HODGE
An Air Force cargo aircraft collided with a drone in Afghanistan, a potentially serious mishap that underscores how crowded the skies can be over the combat zone.
Air Force Capt. Justin Brockhoff, a spokesman for the military in Afghanistan, confirmed that the C-130 cargo plane was forced to make an emergency landing Monday at a forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan after colliding with an RQ-7 Shadow, an unmanned aerial vehicle that is usually operated by the Army and the Marine Corps.
“The C-130 received light damage during the incident and the aircrew was unharmed,” Capt. Brockhoff said.
The drone, which was flying on a surveillance mission, wasn’t carrying any weapons. “We have no reports at this time to indicate any injuries or damages were caused when it [the Shadow] impacted the ground,” Capt. Brockhoff said.
Maj. Andrea Pitruzzella, a spokeswoman for the 914th Airlift Wing, confirmed that the incident involved one of the unit’s C-130 cargo planes. She referred further queries on the incident to the headquarters that oversees operations in the Middle East, because the incident took place in Afghanistan.
Not the first drone near miss In 2010 an airprox incident was reported in the UK
Two official safety inquiries took place into the military use of drones over southern England after near-collisions with helicopters.
The investigations are the first of their kind involving unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are increasingly being flown in British civilian airspace after extensive use in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The inquiries by Airprox, the body that investigates reports of near-collisions, relate to flights on 12 February by a Desert Hawk 3 (DH3) drone owned and used by the army. The drone was being flown in military airspace over Salisbury Plain and operated from the ground.
In each case Airprox concluded that action taken by the operator on the ground prevented collision with the helicopter. However, it made recommendations and said there were “many lessons learned” in the first inquiries involving unpiloted aircraft, which can fly below radar altitude.
Then there was the now famous German Luna and Airbus incident.