[R-G] U.S. to patrol Manitoba border with drone aircraft

Anthony Fenton fentona at shaw.ca
Sat Sep 22 14:26:35 MDT 2007


U.S. to patrol Manitoba border with drone aircraft
Last Updated: Friday, September 21, 2007 | 6:19 PM CT
CBC News
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2007/09/21/uav.html

The U.S. is preparing to use unmanned drone airplanes for  
surveillance of Manitoba's border with Minnesota and North Dakota.

The North Dakota branch will be the first on the northern border to  
use a drone, which will begin operations in April 2008. They are  
already used to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.

     Unmanned aerial vehicles, such as the one pictured here, are  
already used to patrol the southern border of the U.S. Unmanned  
aerial vehicles, such as the one pictured here, are already used to  
patrol the southern border of the U.S.
     (Gerald L. Nino/U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

The unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, will be based at Grand Forks,  
N.D., and will be used to monitor border areas for the illegal  
transfer of drugs, weapons, people, and "who knows what else," said  
Michael Kostelnik of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"It's really the unknowns that gives one pause," he said.

"Given, you know, the risk associated with another event like 9/11  
and the issues that are going on overseas in the Middle East … it's  
just prudent for people on both sides of our northern border to be  
more concerned with things that cross the border that aren't through  
the ports of entry, that aren't documented or aren't right.

The $6-million plane, which will not be armed, is loaded with $4  
million in electronic sensors and equipment to make surveillance more  
efficient, officials said.

It will be safer to operate the drones in this part of the continent  
because there's "not a lot of infrastructure or people" in the area,  
Kostelnik said.

"This is a very large, rugged border — not only the land areas we  
have but the Great Lakes in particular — where it is very difficult  
through normal, non-obtrusive means to detect illicit transport of  
people or things," he said.

"The UAV is a good way on a non-interference basis to add some  
capabilities."

One of the UAVs will be on display Saturday during the formal opening  
of the new Northern Border Air Branch at the Grand Forks airport.

Three other air branches have opened near the Canadian border since  
the summer of 2004 to support border security in Washington, New York  
and Montana.

A fifth branch is scheduled to open in Detroit in May 2008.




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