Hazard Above: Drone crash database

Fallen from the skies

By Emily Chow, Alberto Cuadra and Craig Whitlock, Published June 20, 2014.

More than 400 large U.S. military drones crashed in major accidents worldwide between Sept. 11, 2001, and December 2013. By reviewing military investigative reports and other records, The Washington Post was able to identify 194 drone crashes that fell into the most severe category: Class A accidents that destroyed the aircraft or caused (under current standards) at least $2 million in damage.

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Not just in war zones

About one-third of the crashes occurred in Afghanistan, but nearly one-quarter happened in the United States during test and training flights. As the Pentagon deploys drones away from traditional combat zones, more accidents are occurring in Africa and other locations.

World map highlighting countries where U.S. drones have crashed.

The 194 "Class A" drone crashes

There are no matching results. Pick a different set of options or see all drone crashes.

A breakdown of Class A drone accidents. What type of drone, who flew it and where the accident occurred.

Crash numbers climbing

The annual number of crashes has risen over the past decade as the military has expanded the frequency of drone missions. The Pentagon says most drone types have become more reliable over time and that the number of crashes per flight hour has steadily decreased.

Accidents by year

A histogram of the drone accidents by year.

Select a drone crash to see details

Note: The U.S. Navy has a drone that is similar to the Global Hawk, and has been counted as such.

Sources: Air Force, Army, Navy accident-investigation reports; Defense Department records; General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.; Northrop Grumman Corp.

Part one: War zones

More than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001, a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic, according to a year-long Washington Post investigation.

How drones are controlled

Seven models of military drones are involved in the great majority of crashes. See how the ground-control station keeps in contact with the drone.