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Drones Protecting Our Borders Essay

1939 words - 8 pages

The American Northern border with Canada is 4,000 miles stretching from Washington State to Maine with 115 border crossing points that are manned (U.S. Border Patrol 2014). Likewise, the Southern border with Mexico is 2,000 miles stretching from Texas to California with 61 manned border crossing points (U.S. Border Patrol 2014). The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has worked diligently to emplace a wall and vehicle barriers to prevent drug smugglers and illegal immigrants from crossing the southern border while improving the port crossing along the northern border. The borders had a combined flow of 25,755,204 pedestrian’s travelers and 111,595,575 vehicles both passenger ...view middle of the document...

The Predator is stationed out of Serra Vista, Arizona launching from Libby Army Airport in support of the Customs and Border Protection agency. There are several benefits to utilizing UAS’s personnel, equipment, and maintenance are all less than their competitor manned aircraft. As the technology for UAS advance, so does the efficiency of their employment when looking at the Border Patrols historical data for UAS usage to date. In 2010, the Predator flew 1,100 hours in support of border protection. While in 2011 Predator flew 4,400 hours aiding in the seizure of more than 7,600 pounds of narcotics and the apprehension of 467 individuals taking part in illicit activities (Protection 2014). The Predator saw even more use in 2012, traveling 5,736 hours contributed to the seizure of more than 3,900 pounds of cocaine and 62,000 pounds of marijuana (Protection 2014). The UAS missions also aided in the capture of 1,400 individuals for criminal acts. Also during 2013 the first sea born UAS was deployed to the San Isidro Air Base in the Dominican Republic in support of counter drug operations. This test phase solidified the capability and two Guardian UAS were subsequently purchased and are now stationed out of Corpus Christi in Texas (Protection 2014). Adding to the growing tally 2013 was another year of accomplishments flying 5,117 hours and assisting in the capture of more than 2,645 pounds of cocaine, 56,300 pounds of marijuana, 116 weapons, 2,525 apprehensions and 177 arrests (Protection 2014). These numbers are impressive, noting that the Department of Homeland Security only has nine unmanned aircraft in its fleet.

Benefits of UAS
A Predator B can stay aloft for more than 20 hours, in comparison to similar manned aircraft used by the Border Patrol. A helicopter average flight time is two hours before having to refuel, leaving the border unprotected. Eliminated by the UAS with its long endurance capability, coupled with the ability to do a relief on station. A relief on station is when one UAS is observing an area and is reaching its time limitation another UAS is dispatched to acquire the first UAS’s target area. Once, the second UAS is on station and observing the target area the first UAS returns to base for refuel and maintenance. This process when employed correctly provides uninterrupted surveillance. A concept that cannot be achieved by manned aircraft without incurring extreme cost, with fuel, maintenance and pilots.
Range is another benefit of UAS with the ability to control the UAS from satellite from around the world the range is only limited to the fuel on board. UAS can be deployed to areas where sending manned aircraft would place the pilots’ lives in danger. UAS also has multiple payload capabilities ranging from “Electro-Optical (EO) sensors cameras that can identify an object the size of a milk carton from an altitude of 60,000 feet” (Hardin 2003).
The UAS is also equipped with a Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) allowing...

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