An unmanned aircraft being tested by the U.S. Navy crashed Monday about noon on Maryland's eastern shore, about 22 miles east of the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River. The Global Hawk, about 44 feet long with a wingspan of 116 feet, was one of five UAVs being used to test maritime surveillance capabilities. "No one was injured and no property was damaged at the unpopulated swampy crash site," Navy officials said. Aerial video from WBOC-TV showed piles of burnt debris at the crash site, with scattered flames and lots of black smoke. The site is being cleaned up and Navy officials are investigating the cause of the crash.
The test program at Patuxent River has been in operation since November 2006, working to develop tactics and doctrine for the use of high-altitude unmanned patrol aircraft. The Navy's RQ-4A Global Hawk is powered by a Rolls Royce turbofan engine. It's capable of flying up to 60,000 feet at speeds up to 340 knots for more than 30 hours. Its maximum takeoff weight is 25,600 pounds. It's operated by a crew of four -- two pilots and two sensor operators.