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​An MQ-1B, like one shown here at Creech AFB, Nev., crashed in the US Central Command area of responsibility in January 2016 because of a failure of flight computer, according to an accident investigation board report released June 1, 2017. USAF photo by Steve Huckvale.

​—Wilson Brissett

A sudden failure of the primary control module (PCM), or flight computer, caused an MQ-1B to crash in the US Central Command area of responsibility on Jan. 7, 2016, according to an accident investigation board report released June 1.

The Predator, assigned to the 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., was flying a “combat support mission” controlled by the 20th Attack Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Mo., at the time of the accident.

Operators received a series of warning messages, and soon after the aircraft stopped sending telemetry data. The video link remained in working order, however, and operators could see through the heads up display that the RPA had begun a gradual descent. Investigators later found that the flight computer memory had overloaded and the execution code that controls the flight was degraded. The flight computer then automatically reset and uploaded a corrupted version of an emergency plan.

Operators were not able to correct the aircraft’s descent, and it crashed into the ground about 20 minutes after first loss of control, at a loss of $5 million. The report says the aircraft was not recovered but was destroyed.