On June 21, 2017, a U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk crashed near Mt. Whitney, which lies on the boundary between Sequoia National Park and the Inyo National Forest in California. It’s rugged, heavily forested terrain, and now the service wants someone to go in there and recover parts of the drone.
On June 30, 2017, the Air Force Test Center (AFTC) at Edwards Air Force Base in California announced via the Federal government’s main contracting website it wanted to hire a team with at least one heavy lift helicopter for “unmanned aerial vehicle parts retrieval” related to the mishap. The massive pilotless surveillance aircraft was en route to Edwards from Beale Air Force Base, situated more than 350 miles to the northwest, when it went down. Details about the cause of the accident remain sparse after more than a week.
“Parts of the aircraft are spread-out (refer to grid coordinates),” the contract’s statement of work explained. “Environmental operating conditions will be defined by weather conditions, fire conditions, terrain, and health of personnel before, during, and after the detail.”
Censors redacted the grid coordinates, as well as possible locations for the contractor to establish a base camp and photographs of the crash site. There is no description of exactly what parts the Air Force specifically wants them to extract or if they simply intend to recover as much as possible. With less than 50 Global Hawks in total, and after investing in $10 billion in the program overall, anything recoverable has an inherent value. (end of excerpt)
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