July 27th, 2010
01:22 PM ET

WikiLeaks documents: When unmanned aircraft crash, scavengers often follow

WASHINGTON — When unmanned aircraft crash in Afghanistan, scavenger hunters frequently aren't far behind, U.S. military incident reports published by WikiLeaks suggest.

On several occasions, military units sent to recover Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (TUAV) have arrived to find the aircraft stripped of valuable parts. In April of 2007, a parachute deployed on a TUAV that had maintenance issues, one report says. A patrol sent to recover the aircraft couldn't reach it until the next day, when they discovered it was missing some of its electronic components and its payload. The report says the Afghan National Police and local elders "will continue to work with (local residents) to recover any pieces that were collected by inappropriate personnel."

Similarly, a UAV crashed in March of 2008. The report reads: "The nose of the UAV is missing and the engine is burned. There are multiple footprints in the area from locals."

Ditto in November of 2008, when a UAV had a hard landing with its parachute deployed. The aircraft was destroyed, the report says, but "several components in good condition were grabbed by LN (local residents) before the QRF (quick reaction force) arrival."

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