One of the Italian UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) has crashed in Libya. It’s not clear whether it was shot down (as claimed by some Libyan reports) or crashed for other reasons.
Images showing the wreckage of an Italian Air Force Predator drone have started circulating on the social media networks in the afternoon on Nov. 20.
While showing an Italian Air Force drone, the photographs don’t show an MQ-1 as some sources have reported: they actually show what remains of an MQ-9A Predator B, operated by the 32° Stormo (Wing) of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), based at Amendola Air Base, in southeastern Italy.
— Mahmoud Gamal (@mahmouedgamal44) November 20, 2019
While the aircraft is claimed to have been shot down, for the moment, no detail about the reason of the crash has been officially or unofficially disclosed:
— M.LNA (@mohamedelmaleh) November 20, 2019
The 32° Stormo and its two child units, the 28° Gruppo (Squadron) based at Amendola, and the 61° Gruppo, detached to Sigonella, in Sicily, operate a mixed fleet of MQ-1C Predator A+ (an upgraded variant of the baseline RQ-1B Predator A) and MQ-9A Predator B RPVs (Remotely Piloted Vehicles). Along with the “standard” ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) missions, the Italian Predators have supported MEDEVACs (Medical Evacuations), TIC (Troops In Contact) operations, IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) monitoring, Convoy Escort in Iraq and Afghanistan; they have supported Operation Unified Protector in Libya, Mare Nostrum operation in the Mediterranean Sea near Lampedusa and, from Djibouti, have monitored the seas off the coast of Somalia in anti-piracy missions. They are also currently deployed to Kuwait, to support the US-led anti-ISIS operation in Syria and Iraq. Leveraging their persistence on the target area, the drones have also supported Police forces during major events.
Update: the Italian Defense has confirmed the loss of the Predator RPV (Remotely Piloted Vehicle). The drone was flying in support of “Operazione Mare Sicuro” (maritime surveillance of the waters off Libya). Libyan authorities were informed of its presence. Cause of the loss being investigated.
Oggi è precipitato sul territorio libico un #Predator, velivolo a pilotaggio remoto dell’ #AeronauticaMilitare che stava svolgendo una missione a supporto dell’operazione Mare Sicuro. Sono in corso approfondimenti per accertare le cause dell’evento#UnaForzaperilPaese pic.twitter.com/WBMyvH1a0z
— Forze Armate StatoMaggioreDifesa (@SM_Difesa) November 20, 2019
The unmanned aircraft crashed near Tarhuna, some 65 kilometers to the southeast of Tripoli. LNA of Khalifa Haftar claims to have shot down the drone that, based on the initial reports, was thought to be Turkish until the images showing the Italian roundel have started to surface on the Internet.