An electrical system failure led to the crash of an MQ-1B Predator remotely piloted aircraft during a mission over Afghanistan last August, announced Air Combat Command. The RPA switched to battery power after a dual alternator failure crippled its main electrical power source during the Aug. 22, 2012, sortie, states ACC’s Jan. 10 release summarizing the findings in the report from the command’s abbreviated accident investigation board. The Predator continued flying despite the malfunction, but its onboard recovery system failed to reboot the electrical system and controllers operating from Creech AFB, Nev., and Fargo ANGB, N.D., twice lost contact with the RPA before launch and recovery controllers in theater were able to take over. However, the stateside aircrews failed to follow the battery-conservation checklist, so the aircraft ran out of power and crashed short of the runway despite the efforts of the local controllers, according to the release. The Predator and a single Hellfire missile were destroyed in the incident, for an estimated loss of $4.6 million.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.