Navy Drone Crashes and Burns in Maryland Swamp

$176+ Million Drone Lost in Dorchester County

A US Navy training flight took to costly detour into a swamp in Maryland today, leading to the destruction of a $176 million RQ-4A Global Hawk drone. Officials say it is “unlikely” anyone was hurt in the crash.

The drone was sent up on a “routine training flight” from the Patuxent River air station, and lost contact with the base shortly thereafter. Aircraft found the drone burning in a swamp in Dorchester County, Maryland.

The RQ-4A is one of the most advanced and most expensive drones in the military’s fleet, and the naval version was configured for “broad area martime surveillance.” The official list price for the drone is just over $100 million, but the budget office put the price tag at $176 million in 2010, and prices have been seen rising in the past few years (South Korea abandoned their planned purchases after the price doubled).

The drones are meant to be deployed near aircraft carriers to provide constant surveillance of the area around them. The Pentagon already signed a $1.16 billion for the Naval program with Northrop Grumman the largest drone buy for the Navy so far.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.