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Target drone drifts 800 miles to Keys

March 20, 2013 at 6:20 PM   |   Comments

KEY LARGO, Fla., March 20 (UPI) -- An Air Force target drone drifted about 800 miles from the Florida Panhandle to Key Largo, officials say.

The 20-foot unmanned aircraft was pulled from the water by Steve Powers of Sea Tow-Key Largo after it was spotted Sunday, Keysnet.com reported. The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, based at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, dispatched a truck to pick it up.

"I've never seen one like it," Powers said. "This is a first for me."

Powers described the drone as looking like a large model airplane that happens to have a jet engine. Without a load of fuel, it is very light.

The drone, valued at $570,000, will be fixed up so it can fly again.

Lt. Col. Lance Wilkins, the squadron commander, said since 2007 about 30 BQM-167A Air Force Subscale Aerial Targets have participated in more than 600 launches at Tyndall. Most have come down in the target area, and nine of the 16 that were lost eventually resurfaced somewhere.

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