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Drone Patrols Grow on the Northern Border

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has outlined for the U.S. Senate a northern border surveillance program using unmanned drones that now extends from North Dakota to eastern Washington.

In addition to investigating what a Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman called “real or perceived threats,” which presumably includes everything from drug labs to so-called terrorist activities, the drones can be used to locate missing persons and provide visual aid during disasters. –ARK

AP via The Bellingham Herald:

In testimony before a U.S. Senate panel this week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said northern border surveillance using unmanned aerial aircraft now expands from North Dakota to eastern Washington.

The two 10,000-pound Predator-B unmanned aircraft based in Grand Forks, N.D., have a 950-mile coverage range and “they do enter Washington airspace, in the vicinity of Spokane,” said Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Gina Gray on Thursday.

The unmanned aircraft “can stay in the air for up to 20 hours at a time, something no other aircraft in the federal inventory can do,” Gray said. “In this manner it is a force multiplier, providing aerial surveillance support for border agents by investigating sensor activity in remote areas to distinguish between real or perceived threats, allowing the boots on the ground force to best allocate their resources and efforts.”

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