Part of the lost IAI Searcher retrieved by the Ecuadorian Navy. (Ecuadorian Navy.)
An IAI Searcher reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operated by the Ecuadorian Navy splashed-down in the Pacific Ocean, 4 n miles from Manta, Ecuador, while returning to base after participating in a counter-drug trafficking operation on 20 April, the navy reported on 21 April. The service said that the Searcher suffered “an issue” that required the platform to splash-down, without providing further details.
On 21 April the navy released photos on Twitter showing the retrieval of part of the Searcher's fuselage. The photos show the UAV's tail number as AN-253.
In addition to the Searcher, the Ecuadorian Navy also operates IAI Heron medium-altitude long-endurance UAV. At press time, the Ecuadorian Navy and Ministry of Defence have not responded to queries from
about future maritime ISR operations after the loss of the Searcher.
Before splash-down, the lost Searcher participated in a maritime interdiction operation 127 n miles from Manta in which a go-fast boat was intercepted by naval personnel. Two individuals were arrested and more than one ton of suspected narcotics were seised.