23:15:22- Air Traffic Controller – CALL SIGN (XXXX) 5 miles final, gear down runway 9
23:15:28- PILOT – Gear down, runway 9
23:15:31- ATC – clear to land runway 9, CALL SIGN (XXXX)
23:15:34- SENSOR – Dude, look at this camera. Seriously, I can’t do anything. There’s nothing I can do. I just nuked it.
23:15:41- PILOT – Alright.
23:15:42- SENSOR – Let’s try it again.
23:15:44- PILOT – Yeah, see what you can get working and I’ll plan on landing on this for now.
23:15:47- SENSOR – There’s seriously like something… This camera is completely [expletive].
23:15:54- SENSOR – Like there’s something in the air.
23:16:24- SENSOR – Alright 30 seconds and this will be the second nuke at this altitude which if it doesn’t correct it, it’s unbelievable.
23:16:41- SENSOR – Did he say, “Cleared to land”?
23:16:42- PILOT - Yeah
23:16:44- SENSOR – Ok. Checklist complete, links are set up, autopilots disengaged, cleared to land, try to mess with this picture.
23:17:01- SENSOR – Yeah dude, I literally have…. No picture right now. This camera’s like, completely messed up.
23:17:16- SENSOR – Can you land on that?
23:17:17- PILOT – Uh, I’m going around if I can’t see it.
23:17:21- SENSOR – What altitude are we at right now?
23:17:23- PILOT – Oh
23:17:27- PILOT – That was the ground
23:17:27- PILOT – That was the ground.
• The pilot and sensor operator were part of a ground recovery crew at Camp Lemonnier that took over the remote controls of the drone for landing.
• A “nuke” is a non-uniformity correction, or a procedure intended to reset or adjust the picture from the drone’s infrared sensor.
• The Predator crashed into undeveloped terrain in Djibouti city, about 2.7 miles west of the runway. No bystanders were injured, but the $3 million drone was a total loss.
Source: U.S. Air Force Accident Investigation Board report