An Italian Air Force Predator unmanned aerial vehicle has crashed in Libya, the Italian defence ministry has announced.
The unarmed aircraft came down on 20 November whilst it was carrying out a mission in support of Operation Mare Sicuro, an Italian mission to monitor people trafficking in the Mediterranean, followed a flight plan previously transmitted to Libyan authorities.
However, the Predator crashed kilometres inland, indicating it was more likely being flown on a reconnaissance mission.
Further investigations are underway to ascertain the causes of the crash, the Italian defence ministry said.
Italy has been flying Predators over Libya since August 2011, initially part of Operation Unified Protector against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. Since 2014 Italian Predators have flown anti-piracy patrols from Djibouti in support of Operation Atalanta.
Italy operates upgraded Predator A and Reaper UAVs, all of which are unarmed. These are flown from its Amendola air base in southern Italy, as well as from Sigonella air base in Sicily. The aircraft have flown extensively in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, the Balkans and Africa.
Prior to the loss, the Italian Air Force operated six MQ-9 Reapers (Predator B) and seven RQ-1 Predators.