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Danish UAV lost - in East Africa

The 14th of March the Danish Admiral's Office sent out a brief press statement, telling that "Today the Navy chose to send home two persons from the Ocean Patrol Vessel THETIS after they against standing directives had flown an observation drone over land".

The drone crashed somewhere "10 kilometres northeast of Mombasa".

The THETIS participates in the UN programme running aid to Somalia. The site Danish Naval History had speculated why it had been sent off without its complementary Lynx helicopter that it usually carries on its normal tasks in the North Atlantic, but perhaps carrying the drones is a cheaper and more manageable solution so far from normal waters of patrol.

To me, this is a curious story of the Danish Defence's ongoing and troubled affair with UAV's. After having to scrap the entire Sperwer programme, the Raven was purchased on 11th September last year. I guess the reasoning would go: "We couldn't get the complicated stuff to work, lets buy something that is "plug-and-play", portable in a backpack".

It seems that this strategy has really worked. With my knowledge, the incident is probably just a sign of eagerness recklessness with an excited crew. But despite the Navy's tradition for being less formal than the Army, it is still a bit surprising that an expensive system (over 165.000 DKK total) like that is lost in a bout of afternoon fun. The operators must either have been very careless or lost control over the drone, as the stated range is just about 10 KMs. This also questions its usefulness on a naval ship at sea, I would hold, having a very limited range and flying-time.

Malignant persons would also point out the Diplomatic implications of Danish units conducting surveillance of Kenyan territory - but it doesn't seem that this side of the story has had any traction in public circulation so far.

Here's a map of the surroundings.

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