The Belgian army lost one of its B-Hunter drones on a deployment in Portugal last Tuesday, but the news came up only this weekend. The aircraft crashed in the south of the country without causing ground damage, military sources said on Saturday.
The aircraft – an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in military jargon – belonging to the 80th UAV squadron, based in Florennes, crashed on 10 October in a desert location during a training flight from the Portuguese air base in Beja, in the Alentejo region.
The accident did not cause any damage to the ground, said the press service of Defence to the Belga news agency.
According to another source, the parachute that must in principle ensure a soft landing of a B-Hunter in case of a problem did not work.
Since 2011, the 80th squadron deploys each year in Beja in October-November in order to maintain its level of training during the winter period.
The B-Hunter drones of Israeli design acquired in 1998 – eighteen of them, but several have already been lost, including two in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2006 – have been fully operational since 2004. Based at Florennes since October 2010, they used to operate from Elsenborn, near the German border.
The B-Hunter (B for Belgium) is a twin-engine, 7-meter long with an 8.9-meter wingspan; it has a maximum weight of 727 kilogrammes. It is equipped with a payload including an infrared thermal camera and a CCD camera, which enable it to collect images day and night, and a real-time data transmission system. Its operational range is about 100 km and it can hold the air for ten hours.
Detailed information on the Belgian B-Hunter drones: [FR] http://www.aviation-photographie.net/index?/category/227-eyes_in_the_sky_les_b_hunter_du_80_uav_sqn
Official Belgian Army web page: [FR] http://www.mil.be/fr/materiel/b-hunter-uav
Official Belgian Army web page: [NL] http://www.mil.be/nl/materiaal/b-hunter-uav