November 24, 2010 Current Site Visitors ->
Undocumented Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
Questions of Cost-Benefit Remain
|Glenn Spencer -- American Border Patrol -- November 24
American Border Patrol pioneered the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for border enforcement in 2003 - seven years ago.
Shortly thereafter DHS got into the game.
For the past six years I watched as DHS tried different UAVs -- beginning with the Hunter in 2004- and ending up with the Predator B in 2005.
Little was said in public about the UAVs until August when Popular Mechanics ran a report that suggested that the Predators are not effective. The Arizona Daily Star now reports that over the past three years, Sierra Vista-based Predators have flown a total of 1000 hours -- or 20 hours per week. In other words, each Predator flies only about 7 hours per week.
The Star also reported that the Predators operate above 19,000 feet (Positive Controlled Airspace).
I was told that the Predator B operates best at 12,000 feet -- at most 15,000 feet -- and that the higher altitude limits its ability to see things.
The Star also reported that the FAA restricts where the Predator can fly.
All indications are that restrictions on the Predator program make it a costly boondoggle; but without a comprehensive study we won't really know for sure. It is the Undocumented Aerial Vehicle.
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