Unit’s search for missing drone in Lake Ontario will likely transfer to Air Force board Wednesday

The mission to find a crashed MQ-9 Reaper drone in Lake Ontario likely will be transferred Wednesday to a special Air Force investigation group.

In addition to creating an internal report on what led to the crash, the service’s Safety Investigation Board will have the authority to call in additional resources to recover the multi-million-dollar aircraft.

The drone’s operator, the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing, based in Syracuse, has been searching the shoreline since the aircraft’s Nov. 12 crash, but its efforts have been hampered by inclement weather.

Maj. Sandra D. Stoquert, unit spokeswoman, said the search was called off Monday due to poor weather conditions. There also will be no search today because of the possibility of high winds and snow.

She said the unit’s final day of searching will be Wednesday. Its commander, Col. Greg A. Semmel, will make the call at the end of the day about whether to transfer the efforts at that point to the safety board, which arrived in the area on Sunday.

The aircraft crashed about 12 miles from the lake’s eastern shore and 35 miles from Fort Drum’s Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield, where it took off. The aircraft was traveling in approved airspace during a routine training exercise at the time of the crash. The unit’s remaining Reapers have been grounded since the crash.

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