RAPTOR D-1 (Quiver) February 1, 1994

3259 Aerial image of the crash site. CLUI photo

The RAPTOR D-1 (Quiver), an example of a modern remotely piloted surveillance drone, crashed in an off-highway vehicle recreation area east of California City. It was a prototype for a surveillance and missile launching system, conceived by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. This concept, known as Responsive Aircraft Program for Theater Operations (RAPTOR), featured unmanned aerial vehicles designed to loiter at high altitudes, and launch missiles at other missiles. It was a slow and efficient plane, with a 66-foot wingspan, powered by a small Rotax engine and propeller. The D-1 crashed on its 19th flight, due to a servo failure. Crews picked up the wreckage within 48 hours, though some small fragments remain.

3260 Scaled Composites photoThis was the first version of the plane, built in 1993 by Scaled Composites, at Mojave Airport. The craft was designed to carry a 150-pound payload of infrared search and tracking sensors, plus two 50-pound, hypervelocity missiles, each with a range of nearly 60 miles. It could be piloted remotely, or by someone riding it, like a horse, in a saddle above the wing. After the crash, a second version was made, with a recessed cockpit, but the program was cancelled after two more flights. The second plane is in storage at Edwards, as part of the Air Force Flight Test Museum collection.