Aerial Drones that detect weapons


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DMK
June 25, 2004, 06:25 PM
(Emphasis mine)Drone Takes to Sky Above Arizona Desert

By AMANDA LEE MYERS, Associated Press Writer

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. - The Border Patrol launched an unmanned drone Friday that uses thermal and night-vision equipment to help agents spot illegal immigrants trying to cross the desert into the United States.


The stepped-up surveillance is part of a mission that officials hope will stem the tide of illegal immigrants that have made Arizona the busiest illegal entry point along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico.

The two drones being used in the project can detect movement from 15 miles up, read a license plate, view a vehicle's occupants, and even detect weapons, officials said.

Roger Maier, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, confirmed that one of the remotely piloted Hermes 450 drones started flying Friday morning. It was unclear when the other one would be used.

The drones weigh almost 1,000 pounds, have a 35-foot wingspan and can fly faster than 100 mph. They will patrol at 12,000 to 15,000 feet. They can stay aloft for 20 hours at a time.

The overall cost of the mission is estimated at least $10 million, with the government spending about $4 million on the drones.

Pilots on the ground will remotely control them unless the flight is preprogrammed, with another agent interpreting the images and using global positioning to send agents to respond to what the drones detect.

The aircraft are a key element of the Department of Homeland Security (news - web sites)'s efforts to achieve "operational control" of the border in Arizona. The drones' mission ends Sept. 30, when it will be assessed to determine the future of drones with the Border Patrol.

Border Patrol agents catch hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants trying to cross Arizona's sprawling, cactus-covered deserts each year. The agency had recorded more than 330,000 apprehensions since Oct. 1 in the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, which covers most of the Arizona border.

The Hermes 450s, which Israel uses to patrol its frontiers, join a number of unmanned aerial vehicles being used in the United States.

Remote-controlled planes help gather data for environmental studies and patrol Western skies on wildfire watch. In Alaska, the Coast Guard is also testing a drone this summer for fisheries patrols and other uses.

Drones called Predators have also been successful in U.S. military and CIA (news - web sites) operations. Missiles fired from Predators have killed al-Qaida operatives in Afghanistan (news - web sites) and Yemen.

___

On the Net:


Hermes 450: http://www.elbitsystems.com


Homeland Security: http://www.dhs.gov http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=533&e=5&u=/ap/20040625/ap_on_re_us/border_drones



I can agree with their benefit in the current application, but due to their success and impressive capabilities, how long will it be before they have these things flying pre-programmed "racetrack patterns" over all U.S. cities?

Would scanning people at will and inventorying the things they are carrying be a violation of our 4th amendment?

How will this affect legal concealed carry?

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cordex
June 25, 2004, 06:32 PM
If you put tin foil in your holster, they can't see your gun.

;)

In all seriousness, this is like anything else to do with the government. Some potential for good. Great potential for bad. Nothing you can really do about it one way or the other. Hope for the best, and all.

Travis McGee
June 25, 2004, 08:13 PM
You can bet that if this UAV is effective at spotting border jumpers, they'll find a reason to keep it in the hanger 29 days a month.

DMK
June 25, 2004, 08:20 PM
You can bet that if this UAV is effective at spotting border jumpers, they'll find a reason to keep it in the hanger 29 days a month. Why is that Travis?

Standing Wolf
June 25, 2004, 09:11 PM
...stem the tide of illegal immigrants that have made Arizona the busiest illegal entry point along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico.

The People's Republic of California has fallen behind?

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