FIRST ON 3: Military solves mystery of drones washed up at area beaches

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Submitted: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 3:51am
Updated: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 1:11pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Folks at two area beaches had quite a surprise this morning. They found what turned out to be military target drones on the the beach.

“There was this large plane, looked like a model airplane, but much, much larger than something I’ve ever seen,” Barbara Kennedy of Oak Island said.

Kennedy and her husband Jerry sent us two photos this morning of the plane they ran across on the strand (above, right). We also received a photo from Carolina Beach (above, left).

What some witnesses thought was a really big model plane turned out to be a military tool.

“The aircraft in question is a UAT or Unmanned Aerial Target; specifically it is called the ‘Griffon MQM-170,’ which is primarily used for surface-to-air missile defense training,” said Mike Barton, Deputy Director of Public Affairs at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing. “2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, just completed a live fire exercise on Sept. 17 at Onslow Beach at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. What was found is the remains of two of the targets, out of 40 that were used during the exercise.”

If they wash up near you, you can keep them.

“As we can’t re-use those aircraft, the finders are welcome to keep them, or we can arrange to pick them up,” Barton said.


  • Hmm says:

    We picked one up yesterday in the Topsail Inlet, so that makes three found

  • Kacy says:

    I work for the town of Carolina Beach we get out there on the beach early to clean before most people get there. My coworkers found multiple plane wreckage along the North End of Carolina Beach and some boaters even pulled 1 up out of the water that was floating. So there were more then just 2 that didnt get hit!

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    Remember, these drones aren’t carrying thousands of pounds of JP4 in their tanks, as an enemy aircraft would be. There are no huge explosions and dramatic disintegrations with these drones. These get hit and usually simply start heading down because they lose power or have a control surface disrupted. I’ve seen them do vertical dives and I’ve seen them fly off into the sunset losing altitude.

    The floater may have been due to a malfunction of the drone or the missile, or it could have been a rare clean miss or simply not enough shrapnel to get the job done.

    I’ve watched the LAAD Batallion in action and believe me, I would not want to be the pilot who gets caught in their sight.

  • Eddie says:

    Hi, I collect military drones and was wondering if you still had the one you found and if so, would you be interested in selling?


  • Jaybird says:

    Seems kinda’ odd that they were just abandoned if that is the case in terms of navigational hazards.For the clarificaton of the term “drone” it’s an unmanned aircraft in this sense as well as un-powered.The remote controlled drones playing shoot ‘em up bang bang in the Middle East are powered and remotely controlled.

  • wow really? says:

    oh god there is a conspiracy theorist no matter how logical…

    I have launched these exact air frames before with the military… it happens… and the timing is right..

  • Guest127658123476812 says:

    i’ll be sure to stay tuned in for this story. seems a bit weird. me thinks they have nothing to do with the military. you’d think they’d be all over it if they had any involvement.

  • Guest8654 says:

    I can’t imagine the military losing two drones and just treating like “Eh, we’ll get out there and get them tomorrow.” They also look nothing like the drones show on TV that are being used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. If we’re placing bets, I’d wager that someone wanted to play a prank that would end up on the news.

  • Andy says:

    It’s a Griffon Outlaw. Target drone that’s supposed to be shot down.

    Tinfoil not needed.

  • Guest12345 says:

    Those are targeting drones used for surface to air weapons and training to be shot down.. guess the operators werent very good shots.. haha.. obviously they missed! lol

  • Guest-of-the-day says:

    the plane in the pic seemed to be missing part of its crotch… furthering the theory about the Leland Police Training Dept. ;-).

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    The warhead is surrounded by hundreds of steel ball-bearings. The proximity fuse detonates the warhead before it hits the target. The steel ball bearings are what do the damage, so if you examine one of these you might find the bottom of the fuselage and wings peppered with many small holes.

    Trust me, the second and third generation shoulder-fired SAMs rarely miss. They can differentiate between a jet exhaust and the flare the pilot dropped to try and fool the missile. You can’t climb into the Sun and then roll out to send it climbing vertically past you. They’re too smart for that. They’re always looking for the “second hottest” source.

    That’s why we’re now sweating bullets because of the SAMs that were sent to Libya and have simply vanished. Any jihad monkey with half a brain and a basic knowledge of English can take down an airliner.

  • Guest12356 says:

    Leland police must be behind this. I heard training papers were found inside the planes.

  • Guest3 says:

    Maybe someone is in the model airplane club???

  • shoognite says:

    Griffon Aerospace MQM-170 Outlaw… meant to be shot down. Worst story coverage ever. Do your research

  • Guest7777 says:

    A guy who misspelled the word your is calling other people idiots. Really?

  • OTter says:

    Sorry you are to rigid to get jokes. But seriously people, if you’re (better ?) going to report on something like this how about you take the time to do 5 minutes of research…Journalism, the new Fast Food job…

  • 03wrxwagon says:

    They are talking about how it only took them a few minutes of me posting it there to determine what they were. People in an Off Topic section of a Subaru chat board figured it out way faster than a news outlet.

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