U.S. Air Force 20-foot-long High-Performance BQM-167A target drone washes up on Ocean Ridge Hammock Park, south of West Palm Beach.
The drone was discovered Friday morning by a passerby, the local police secured the area while the relevant authorities were notified.
The area of the beach was then made secure, while Air Force personnel began the process of removing the drone.
The drone was eventually removed from the beach and towed to the Boynton Beach Inlet.
Air Force 1st Lt. Savanah Bray said the target drone was used for training with the 53rd Wing out of Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City. Bray said the drones are typically retrieved from the water after trainees shoot them down, but this one happened to wash ashore.
“It is not quite as random as you might think,” Bray said in a telephone interview. “There is nothing dangerous … and we recover these on a regular basis and sometimes we are just unable to.”
An Air Force Subscale Aerial Target (AFSAT), the BQM-167A is produced by drone manufacturer Kratos and is used for the test and evaluation of new air-to-air weapons as well as for training pilots during live-fire exercises. It has been in use since 2007.
“The primary role of the BQM-167A is to provide the U.S. Air Force aviators with the world’s most realistic and comprehensive end-to-end weapons-release training,” according to the manufacturer.
Powered by a MicroTurbo TR 60-5 turbojet engine producing 1,000 pounds of thrust, the BQM-167A can fly at speeds up to Mach 0.91 and at altitudes between 50 feet and 50,000 feet. It’s also agile, being able to maneuver at up to 9G.