U.S. Predator spy drone shot down by Kurd rebels in Turkey, near Iraq

Pictures of the wreckage of a U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator drone shot down in Turkey were released by the Kurdish Firat News Agency on Sept. 19.

The spy robot was shot down by the Kurd rebels on Sept. 18, during an operation against the rebel bastion of Uludere, in the Hakkari prefecture.

According to Turkish and Greek media outlets, the drone was part of a force of four U.S. Air Force Predator UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) deployed to Incirlik airbase, in southern Turkey (one of the airports used to launch drone surveillance missions over Syria).

Their primary mission from Incirlik is  the surveillance of the Kurdish rebels along the borders between Turkey and Iraq, not far from Iran: images are collected and transmitted to the Turkish General Staff to help Ankara monitoring the movements of militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

In fact, the U.S. is cooperating with Turkey in its efforts to combat the PKK by extending Predator flights over northern Iraq, to spy on PKK bases. Ankara insists U.S. Predators should support anti-PKK operations 24 hours a day, a request Washington could be unable to satisfy considered the effort required by America’s drone war across the world.

Someone managed to film the crash site and uploaded a video to Youtube.

Although few parts of the downed drone have survived the crash, a “General Atomics” label, a chunk of the Rotax 914 four cylinder, four-stroke, 101 HP engine (and a quite intact sensor camera array) can be clearly identified, thus confirming that the one downed by the PKK (or autnomously crashed) is really a Predator, the most famous American unmanned platform.

Image credit: Firat News

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Was it a MQ-1 or a MQ-1A (ie. hellfire carrier)?
    Either way, pretty heavy equipment for general surveillance, as even the MQ-1 laser target designates for other assets.

    • Why? Did the U.S. deinied the loss of the RQ-170 Sentinel? Or the loss of 6-8 harriers at Camp Bastion?
      Same transaprency policies do not apply to other countries in the world.

    • I fail to see why – Iran & China have probably already picked up Predators from previous crashes/shootdowns in better condition, as their has been many Predators lost. They also have the more advanced RQ-170 to pick over..
      They still might get $50 grand or so from the Iranian’s as a comparison, but likely to get little more in that condition – shotdown/crashed Predator’s aren’t exactly rare these days…

      The fact that the US is supporting the Turks in targeting the PKK is also pretty well out of the bag.

      For the US to go in & heavily bomb a position in Iraq now, without clearing it with the Iraqi government….
      (also to add to the complexities, the PKK used to have an office with representatives in the US run Green Zone)

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