Feeds

US Border Patrol laughs off spyplane prang wristslap

Burgeoning drone flotilla to meet huddled-mass threat

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.