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Search effort called off for Reaper drone that crashed into Lake Ontario


The search for a MQ-9 Reaper drone that crashed into Lake Ontario in November has ended unsuccessfully.

The end of the search comes as Air Force investigators continue their review of what caused the aircraft to crash on Nov. 12.

Maj. Sandra D. Stoquert, spokeswoman for the 174th Attack Wing, Syracuse, said she was informed of the decision to cease all search operations on Tuesday.

She said on Wednesday that a “significant” amount of debris from the aircraft was found, echoing comments made about a week ago by Col. Greg A. Semmel, who leads the New York Air National Guard unit.

The aircraft crashed about 12 miles from the lake’s eastern shore and 35 miles from Fort Drum’s Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield, where it took off. The aircraft was traveling in approved airspace during a routine training exercise at the time of the crash.

The crash was the first for the unit with the aircraft since it started operating at Fort Drum’s airfield in October 2011. This October, the unit marked its 2,000th flight hour from the airfield.

It was not clear how much fuel was in the Reaper at the time of the crash. The aircraft was not carrying any classified data during its flight.

The unit’s eight remaining Reapers at Fort Drum and at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, near Syracuse, were grounded for several weeks after the crash, but their operations resumed at the end of November.

The incident is considered a Class A crash, meaning an internal Air Force Safety Investigation Board will have 30 days to complete an internal report about the crash. A second investigation board will create a publicly released report in approximately three to six months.

Air wing officials estimated the Reaper’s cost at $4 million to $5 million, but General Atomics, the company that makes the Reaper, told the Associated Press the drone’s cost starts at $10 million.

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