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Indian Navy Searcher surveillance drone crashes in Kochi

An Indian Navy Searcher surveillance drone crashed shortly after take-off near Kochi in India’s southern Kerala state on Tuesday, November 21, just hours before the country’s vice president was due to visit.

The Israel-made UAV was on a routine surveillance mission and crashed shortly after take-off north of the naval airfield INS Garuda at 10:25 a.m., the Indian Navy said in a statement.

“A remotely piloted aircraft ‘Searcher’ on a routine surveillance mission crashed north of the naval airfield INS Garuda after take off at 10:25 a.m.,” a Ministry of Defence release said, noting that there were no casualties or damage to property as a result of the crash.

“The aircraft crashed in the vicinity of the HHA tank terminal on the northern side of Willingdon Island,” the statement said.

A spokesperson said the crash occurred due to “technical reasons,” NDTV reported, while International Business Times reported that it is suspected that engine failure led to the crash.

“A Board of Inquiry as been constituted to investigate the cause of the accident,” the MoD release said.

The crash came just hours before Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu was due to arrive in the city for a two-day visit, his first to the state of Kerala since taking office.

Indian Naval Air Squadron 342 operates Israel-made IAI Heron and IAI Searcher MkII UAVs from INS Garuda, Kochi. The Searcher is a third-generation multi-mission UAV that carries an electro-optic camera and a communication intelligence payload. It can remain airborne for around 16 hours and has a maximum range of 150km (93 miles).

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