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Mon, Oct 03, 2005

Predator B UAV Now On The Prowl Along US-Mexico Border

'Birds Eye View' Will Help Agents Find Intrusions

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents patrolling the Arizona-Mexico border now have a new tool available to help them respond to illegal intrusions, as the first Predator B Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was deployed for operation last week at Sierra Vista Municipal/Libby Army Airfield in Ft. Huachuca, AZ.

"Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in using unmanned aircraft systems to secure our nations borders," said Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr., Aircraft Systems Group president for General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., makers of the Predator B.

Designed for high-altitude, extended-duration operations, the Predator B will provide long-endurance surveillance and communications relay in support of the CBP’s Arizona Control Initiative (ABCI,) and will be operated and maintained by GA-ASI personnel in close cooperation with CBP Border Patrol agents. Real-time images from the aircraft will enable proper assessment of intrusions and eliminate false alarm responses by agents, thereby increasing their patrolling effectiveness.

Predator B is also expected to provide agents with a detailed "birds eye view," particularly in remote portions of the border where CBP Border Patrol agents cannot travel easily or safely, and infrastructure is difficult or impossible to build.

"To secure our nation’s borders is priority number one," said Robert C. Bonner, Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  "CBP now owns and operates the most advanced state-of-the-art technology and is capitalizing on the Predator B unmanned aircraft system to secure the country better.  This 'eye in the sky' will not only support the 'boots on the ground' but will also allow us to deploy resources more effectively, ultimately enhancing our ability to gain operational control of our borders."

The Predator B is a larger version of the original Predator aerial vehicle, with 500 percent greater payload capacity, in-flight endurance exceeding 30 hours, and a top speed of over 220 knots. The Predator B can also operate above 50,000 ft MSL.

FMI: www.uav.com

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