Magazine article National Defense

Domestic Drones

Magazine article National Defense

Domestic Drones

Article excerpt

DHS mulls maritime Predator as northern version takes flight

* The first Customs and Border Protection Predator B unmanned aerial vehicle arrived in December at Grand Forks, N.D., where it will conduct regular patrols of the northern border.

Meanwhile, work continues at its manufacturer, General Atomics, to develop a maritime version of the UAV that will patrol the Caribbean, Gulf Coast and other seas surrounding the United States.

Kimberly Kasitz,, spokesperson for General Atomics, said the company is proceeding with development of the maritime version of the Predator at its own expense in anticipation that CBP will purchase the first drone at the end of 2009.

The maritime version must have a 360-multi-mode maritime radar and automated identification system. AIS receives data from ships with 300 gross tonnage or more, which are now required to carry beacons that transmit their speed, direction and identity.

Once this work is complete, future Predator Bs can be quickly reconfigured for land or sea operations.

"This can be accomplished in only a few hours," she said. …

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