Skip to comments.Border Patrol grounds aerial drones
Posted on 01/25/2005 5:08:59 PM PST by SandRat
After nearly a year in operation, the United States is pulling its Unmanned Aerial Vehicles off the Arizona border, grounding the drone planes to weigh their effectiveness.
The two UAVs - RQ-5 Hunters made by Northrop Grumman Corp that can fly up to 100 mph for half a day - cost $1 million apiece and were introduced into the Arizona desert in October, said Mario Villarreal, U.S. Border Patrol spokesman in Washington, D.C.
The two Hunter planes succeeded two Israeli-made Hermes 450s that cost about $2 million each and helped nab 965 illegal entrants and about 850 pounds of marijuana, said Andrea Zortman, spokeswoman for the agency's Tucson sector. The Hermes started flying in April 2003 as part of the Arizona Border Control Initiative.
By comparison, the Hunters helped apprehend 287 illegal border crossers and helped seize 1,889 pounds of marijuana from Oct. 1 to Jan. 23, she said.
In all, the Border Patrol made nearly 500,000 apprehensions in the Tucson Sector last fiscal year.
Zortman attributed the low number of apprehensions to the slow season for illegal migration but said the videos the drones recorded helped prosecute drug traffickers.
The Border Patrol has not decided when to start the program back up, though it will likely resume this year, Villarreal said.
The unmanned aerial vehicles were a popular choice last year when the agency launched its $15 million Arizona Border Control Initiative to help secure the state's border with Mexico.
With cameras and night vision, the drones joined 260 new agents and four new helicopters in Arizona and were assigned the task of patrolling areas that were difficult for agents on the ground to reach. Agents then monitored the downloaded data and sent the information out to agents to respond in desert areas that were easier to reach.
The drones did not do the job of old-fashioned "boots on the ground" patrol work, said Mike Albon, spokesman for National Border Patrol Council, Local 2544, the local union.
Noting that agents and manned air assets such as the agency's Black Hawk helicopters seized more than 148,000 pounds of marijuana and apprehended more than 100,000 people in the same time frame, Albon suggested the agency might be better served by spending its budget for unmanned aerial vehicles on more agents and better equipment.
Border Security ping.
Translation: " The union wants us to hire more union goons and not replace union-dues-generating people with cost-effective unmanned assets."
It always nice to get new equipment and technology. However none of that means very much when the Administration and the Border Patrol do not have the will to properly secure the border. Get rid of the politically correct policies and we will have a secure border not to mention a huge savings to the taxpayer.
ABP flies their drone withing spitting distance of the testing grounds at Fort Huachuca and shames the SUBP into coming up with their own version (a year later and at vastly higher cost).
Then, when public confidence swings to the agency in favor of continuing to support ABP, cut the program.
I wonder how long they're going to allow more illegals into the country before they figure out that the drones were effective.
It will take another 9/11 to get them back in the air.
One of the Minuteman Project Coordinators - maybe Jim Gilchrist - was on with Sean Hannity this afternoon. I couldn't listen to the whole segmen, but what I heard of it was great.
He invited any and all media to come out and see ground truth for themselves.
Why would you have to "ground" them to judge their effectiveness? You could just look at the apprehension statistics and see.
There are areas along the border that are off-limits to patrolling due to environmental sensitivities, and it is in precisely these areas that smugglers operate, at least in some cases. And it is in these areas that people die, again in some cases. These robot craft allow us to patrol these areas with no environmental impact at all, and will almost certainly save lives if they haven't already saved lives.
Shutting down this program makes no sense at all except in the most perverse way.
I hope your not right about that, but I fear that you are right. Especially the tone in our great gubmnt. Did ya hear murdering Ted Kennedy today acting as a "defense lawyer for al queda (Rush's quote)".
...areas along the border that are off-limits to patrolling due to environmental sensitivities...True and it the watERMELons that cry to high heaven and threaten courts action if the BP goes and at the same time sues in Court because the Government isn't protecting the environment.
...it is in precisely these areas that smugglers operate...Yes it is and they leave an unbelievable amount of trash and bio-hazardous material behind.
Ask Jackelopebreeder about the crap left behind and how many get turned in from UAVs (well at least the ones from the ABP UAVs that embarrassed the BP to come up with its own).