Feeds

US Border Patrol laughs off spyplane prang wristslap

Burgeoning drone flotilla to meet huddled-mass threat

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The US border patrol will press ahead with plans to enlarge its fleet of unmanned surveillance aircraft, despite embarrassing revelations about the programme which have emerged following a crash last year.

At the moment US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), operates two Predator B robo-planes from Fort Huachuca near the Arizona-Mexico border.

The Predator-B is a large turboprop drone, capable of carrying substantial payloads. The military version (aka the "Reaper") can carry a heavy load of ordnance including smart bombs or laser-guided Hellfire missiles.

CBP Predators are unarmed, but retain the military moving-target radar, able to sweep a square kilometre of ground every second and detect individual people. Radar contacts can then be confirmed by a telescopic thermal camera.

A CBP Predator-B crashed last year near Nogales, following a comical series of errors by its poorly-trained pilot on the ground. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made no fewer than 22 separate recommendations for drone operations in US airspace as a result.

However, CBP is keen to get more Predators airborne so as to quell the epidemic of yearnings to breathe free along the southern borders.

"Nothing in this NTSB report will dissuade us from continuing to operate the Predator B program," said Douglas Koupash, CBP boats'n'planes chief, talking to the Arizona Republic.

It appears that by the end of 2007 the fleet will have increased to six, and may be carrying out patrols against possible incursions from Canada as well as Mexico.

Koupash asserts that his people have now implemented all but three of the NTSB recommendations, and says the current Predators have been very useful. CBP says the drones have flown 1,300 hours and contributed to more than 3,000 arrests and 14 tons of drugs seizures in just two years.

Other tech-heavy border security drives of recent times have included the bug-plagued SBInet Eye-of-Sauron style scanner towers, and plans to use spy satellites, which have run into trouble in Washington.

For now, the Predators are the only one of CBP's new eye-in-the-sky plans to work at all, so the patrol agents' enthusiasm for the robo-planes is perhaps understandable.

More from the Arizona Republic here. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?