UAV missions boost tech presence on border
A Predator B unmanned aerial vehicle will begin its first surveillance
flights over the border between the United States and Canada in early
February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials said.
test flights are part of a plan to link aerial imagery and data with a
network of marine and ground sensors and other technologies along the
border, they added.
Officials said the agency has been flying
UAVs over the border with Mexico since 2005 to augment data collected
by sensors and other technologies. They had announced Predator B
flights over the Canadian border as part of a test program nearly two
years ago, but they only recently completed negotiations with the
Federal Aviation Administration and other entities to obtain the
necessary approvals, Juan Munoz Torres, a CBP spokesman, said Dec. 11.
Predators are capable of flying 260 miles per hour for more than 18
hours at altitudes of 50,000 feet. The new Predator B will operate out
of Grand Forks, N.D., and carry radar, infrared camera, video camera
and communications equipment.
In March, CBP officials said they
were refining a security strategy for the northern border and intended
to demonstrate an integrated air, land and marine solution. Congress
included $20 million for a northern border security demonstration
project in the fiscal 2009 budget.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.