Air Force Drone Crash Closes Florida Highway

An Air Force drone crashed on takeoff on Wednesday, exploding in a fireball and forcing the closure of a Florida Panhandle highway. Officials said no one was injured but the road could be closed for up to 24 hours.

The Air Force shut down Highway 98 near Tyndall Air Force Base west of Panama City after the QF-4 drone, a modified F-4 Phantom, crashed on a test flight. Unlike surveillance drones in the military’s arsenal, the QF-4 is used for target practice, usually by F-22 pilots.

The drone is controlled remotely to simulate the maneuvers of enemy fighters. A self-destruct feature is controlled by a battery with a life of 24 hours. It was unclear whether the device had been triggered, leading to the delay in reopening the highway.

Highway 98 cuts along the Gulf Coast and is a popular route for tourists.

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