US Africa Command says one of its drones, apparently armed, malfunctioned in Niger

A drone operated by U.S. Africa Command made an emergency landing near Agadez, Niger, on Saturday, a U.S. Africa Command spokesman told Military Times.

“The aircraft experienced a mechanical malfunction while conducting a routine mission in support of operations in the region,” Air Force Col. Christopher Karns told Military Times.

An investigation into the cause of the malfunction will take place, he said.

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Damian T. Donahoe, deputy commanding general, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, center, talks with service members during a battlefield circulation Sept. 5, 2020, in Somalia. (Senior Airman Kristin Savage/Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa via AP)

“The aircraft is under observation by U.S. forces with host nation cooperation and assistance,” Karns said. “Assessment and the process of recovery of the aircraft and safeguarding the site is underway. Due to force protection and operational considerations this is about all I can say. Early indications reflect a mechanical issue but an investigation is underway.”

While Karns could not comment on the type of drone, AFRICOM’s Twitter account confirmed the loss of the aircraft after being asked about social media postings of what appear to be an armed drone, with a Hellfire missile still under its wing.

play_circle_filled In this Feb. 17, 2011, file photo, hundreds of newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area some 18 km south of Mogadishu, in Somalia. (Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP)

“We continue to work with African partners providing a range of assistance in the region to include a valuable threat detection capability via aerial overwatch,” said Karns.

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