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Thu, Jun 25, 2009

Homeland Security And Customs Using UAV For Surveillance

Looking For Unusual Activity In Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River

Even though local authorities are unable to get permission from the FAA to use UAV's for police work, the Customs and Border Patrol have been testing a Predator B Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) stationed at Fort Drum since early June for a possible border patrol mission.

According to television station WWTI in Watertown, New York, DHS is using the restricted airspace over Fort Drum to determine if the Predator is a good fit for patrolling the nation's northern border.

Border Patrol currently has five of the unmanned aircraft, none of which are permanently stationed in the northeast. The Predator currently under testing will be operating out of Fort Drum for about three weeks.

John Stanton, director of CBP's Office of Air and Marine, said state, provincial and local law enforcement agencies were quick to take up the offer of added surveillance of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

"So while we were flying, we were asked by our partner law enforcement agencies if we would be kind enough to be on the lookout for suspicious activities," Stanton told WWTI.

The Predator flies only in restricted airspace at 19,000 feet, which means it avoids low-level traffic and lowers the risk of a midair collision. Stanton said the aircraft is the same as the Predators flown by the military (shown above), except it carries no weapons and has a lower-powered engine.

FMI: www.cbp.gov

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