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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.

Comment on this Story

  • Eddie

    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?


  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    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.

  • Kacy

    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!

  • Hmm

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

  • Jaybird

    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.

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