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

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

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