Resurfaced Image Shows Man Happily Posing for a Selfie Beside a Crashed Military Drone

What is the first thing you'd do if a U.S. surveillance drone crash-landed in your backyard? Would you call 9-1-1? Homeland security? Your mom? Well, when one man in Iraq stumbled upon a U.S. military drone out in a desert oasis several years ago, he apparently went for his phone—but only to snap a selfie with the massive aircraft.

The photo, originally captured by activist Steven Nabil in 2015, resurfaced online on Tuesday and garnered a wave of fanfare from Redditors who hadn't seen such a big drone before. The $21 million MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone was significantly bigger than the standard drones that appear on electronic store shelves nowadays, and a number of people on social media were surprised to learn that giant drones even existed.

"I had no idea they were this big, it looks like a baby airplane!" one Redditor wrote.

Another person informed everyone in the thread that the U.S. military had drones even larger in their possession, including the Global Hawk drone, which allegedly has a "larger wingspan than an airbus 321 that carries roughly 180 people."

Meanwhile, some people were merely disturbed to see the first-hand product of U.S. spying.

"I feel bad for these countries that are full of our drones, Americans don't even f**king get how many drone strikes and surveillance drones we have functioning on an average day. It's so common that it's even used in comedy television. They fear beautiful days because drones fly and you cannot see them but feel safe on rainy /cloudy days because drones don't fly in bad weather," one person commented.

Drones operated for military purposes are often used for surveillance, although some of them are loaded with weapons. The drone Nabli photographed was unarmed when it crashed in the desert of Samawa province in southern Iraq—an area about 280 miles away from Baghdad, which is controlled by the U.S. government—in July 2015. At the time, the Pentagon confirmed the drone was surveying the region and collecting information. The aircraft's "technical complications caused a loss of communications," which caused the machine to suddenly crash during its return flight back to the base camp.

While that particular drone may have been one of the first to get the selfie treatment after crash landing, it certainly isn't the first of the military's drones to fall out of the sky. Just two months before the MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone crashed in the Samawa province, authorities discovered the wreckage of another fallen drone in southern Iraq in May 2015. That crash was also caused by mechanical malfunctions.

U.S. drones—some armed, some not—have long performed surveillance missions across Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria before, and they have played an integral role in the fight against the Islamic State. The information obtained by the device's spy cameras helps military officials plot air strikes against the opposition.

Resurfaced Image Shows Man Posing With Drone
A picture taken on March 14, 2017, in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul shows a drone carrying two grenades flying in a test flight by Iraqi forces which aim to use it against Islamic State (IS) group fighters. ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images
Resurfaced Image Shows Man Happily Posing for a Selfie Beside a Crashed Military Drone | Culture