Excited college students on spring break were not the only visitors to Florida beaches last week.
The drone, which is part of the Air Force’s weapon system evaluation programme, was quickly recovered by the military. There were no injuries reported from the incident.
USAF spokeswoman Lt. Savannah Bray told CNN that the drone, a BQM-167A, is a target drone used for training exercises throughout the military. The drones test weapons systems for fighter pilots during live-fire exercises.
“They are flown remotely, and they simulate a real air-to-air combat mission,” Ms Bray said.
Pilots shoot down the drones to simulate fighting against a real aircraft.
The drones can fly at .92 Mach and were first put into use in 2007. It can fly at altitudes up to 50,000 feet.
All of the drones have a phone number printed on the side so that anyone who finds them can call Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, where the craft are based.
Ms Bray said the drones are not armed and pose no threat to the public.
“In no way, shape or form was it anything that was a weapon or ever posed a dangerous situation,” she said.
Ms Bray said the drone was likely shot down during recent training exercises.
Usually the USAF recovers the drones using boats or through a parachute recovery system. The drones are then repaired and reused for further training.
Ms Bray said it was not unusual for local law enforcement or civilians to find the drones when the Air Force cannot recover them.
“Every now and then something happens, waves or weather, that our boats are unable to navigate towards [the drones]” Ms Bray said.