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Mon, Aug 20, 2012

CBP Beefs Up Border Detection Of Ultralight Aircraft

Multi-Million-Dollar System Designed To Detect Low-And-Slow Aircraft

The Customs and Border Protection division of the Department of Homeland Security has awarded a contract worth nearly $100 million to SRC Tec of New York for an aircraft detection system designed to pick up ultralight aircraft that may be crossing the U.S. border carrying drugs.

In the contract RFP, CBP said the objective of this effort is to obtain Small Aircraft Detection and Tracking (ULAD) Equipment to detect and track small, low and slow moving aircraft that may have a small radar cross section. The desired system is intended to be self contained, able to operate with or without external power or CBP communications infrastructure to permit deployment in remote areas in all types of weather and terrain conditions.

The system will transmit real time sensor data into an Operations Center either through its external power and communications infrastructure or, when deployed in remote locations, via its own internal power and communications package. Data must integrate into an acceptable data protocol and have remote control capability. Remote control capability means the Operations Center has the same level of control as the operator who is on-site with the system.

California Watch reports on its website that plans for a system to catch such aircraft crossing the border date back to the Clinton administration. Boeing had originally been awarded a contract, but it was cancelled by DHS for what Secretary Janet Napolitano said were "cost overruns and missed deadlines."

Before she was injured, Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) had introduced legislation that targeted ultralights as a border risk. That legislation was approved by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Obama. The Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act of 2012 included higher penalties for smugglers fly them to transport drugs. California Senator Diane Feinstein (D) said at the time that as many as four incidents a day can occur in Imperial County, CA, on "relative calm nights," and that in one six-month period, as many as 200 incidents involving ultralight aircraft for drug smuggling were reported.

FMI: www.cbp.gov

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