ZAMBOANGA CITY – A US military unmanned aerial vehicle crashed Tuesday outside an air force base in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines, reports said.
The drone was quickly retrieved by American soldiers outside the Edwin Andrews Air Base in the village of Santa Maria, local residents who were in the area, said. They said the spy drone was flying low when it hit a tree and crashed shortly before 5 a.m.
“It was really noisy, the engine sounded like that of a motorboat, but much louder than its usual sound and the noise from its engine even woke us up,” one resident in a nearby village of Tetuan told The Manila Times after hearing radio reports of the crash.
Witnesses said the US soldiers came in trucks and retrieved the drone. US spy planes regularly fly in low altitude in Zamboanga, especially at dawn.
The military did not issue any statement on the downed spy plane and US forces were also silent on the crash. It was not immediately known what type of drone had crashed, but the US military, which is aiding Filipino troops in fighting terrorism, operates a large number of spy drones from MQ-1 Predator, armed with Hellfire missiles, to the smaller, but long-endurance ScanEagle which can fly in low altitude.
It was not the first time that a US drone had crashed in Zamboanga City. In 2002, another drone crashed at sea off Zamboanga and was also retrieved by American forces; and another in 2006 and 2007 in the town of Indanan and Mount Tumatangis in Sulu province, and also in 2008 in North Cotabato’s Pikit town.
US troops still operate in Zamboanga City and in Sulu, one of five provinces in the restive Muslim autonomous region. It also assisted the Philippine military in defeating local IS in the besieged city of Marawi held by militants since May until their October downfall.