Student pilot error caused the crash of an Air National Guard MQ-1B Predator remotely piloted aircraft during a training mission April 20 in southern California, Air Combat Command investigators have determined. The pilot’s failure to recognize that the Predator’s speed was too low during final approach caused a stall and subsequent hard landing of the aircraft at Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, according to the findings of ACC’s accident investigation board. Upon impact, the Predator left the prepared runway and subsequently broke apart, resulting in its total loss and the loss of the inert Hellfire training missile on its wing. Total damages are estimated at about $3.7 million. The Predator belonged to the ANG’s 163rd Reconnaissance Wing at March Air Reserve Base. The student operator was from Cannon AFB, N.M., and was training under the Air Guardsmen’s supervision. (ACC release) (AIB executive summary)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.