Drone crashes into the ocean off San Diego coast - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Drone crashes into the ocean off San Diego coast

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - We're learning new information about a military drone that crashed off the San Diego coast.

The drone was being flown on a border security mission when it developed a mechanical problem and the crew crashed it into the ocean.

Not long after the damaged drone arrived to Coast Guard headquarters along the Embarcadero Tuesday, CBS News 8 cameras captured a flat bed truck hauling the wreckage away to an unspecified location.

The drone, which is part of the US Customs and Border Protection's 10-drone fleet, was intentionally ditched into the Pacific Ocean 20 miles southwest of Point Loma late Monday night after it malfunctioned. Their spokesperson released a statement, which read in part:

"The crew determined that the UAS would be unable to return to where it originated in Sierra Vista, Ariz., and put the aircraft down in the water. The cause of the failure is unknown."

According to the Wall Street Journal, the drone's onboard generator failed, and the backup battery lacked the sufficient power needed to keep it in the air. The drone is a variant of Predator B. An official with General Atomics Aeronautical, the San Diego-based company that made the one that crashed, says it costs between $11 million and $12 million, and can fly up to 27 hours at 50,000 feet.

US Border and Customs Protection has been using drones since 2005, their mission to intercept potential terrorists and illegal border activity -- both of which Pedro Rios with Southern Border Communities Coalition opposes.

"There are some real civil rights issues involved. What are the images they are taking?" Rios said.

Rios says Monday's incident is a prime example of his concerns, and highlights the need to discontinue the use of drones.

"Had there not been a place they would have crashed that was not unpopulated, we could have seen loss of life," Rios said.

Rios says he has already been in contact with government officials regarding this incident

Meanwhile, CBS News 8 spoke with a drone expert earlier who says despite the criticism, these aircraft are highly sophisticated and monitored. The last time a drone malfunctioned was back in November, when one struck the USS Chancellorsville as it was heading back to San Diego. Two sailors were injured as a result.

Fortunately, there were no injuries to report in the most recent incident.

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