Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Feature: Border Hawk drone flies
United Press International ^ | 6/23/03 | Steve Sailer

Posted on 06/24/2003 4:21:46 PM PDT by Tancredo Fan

Feature: Border Hawk drone flies

By Steve Sailer
United Press International, June 23, 2003

LOS ANGELES (UPI) -- There's something about the idea of pilotless drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, that makes them seem both ominous and cool.

So, I was intrigued to hear from Glenn Spencer, head of a group of activists opposed to illegal immigration, that he was testing surveillance drones over the Arizona-Mexico frontier. He said his private volunteer organization American Border Patrol is developing a UAV they call the Border Hawk. Their plan is to deliver live over the Internet aerial coverage of illegal aliens slipping into the United States, and their purpose is to both assist and prod the federal U.S. Border Patrol in sealing the southern border against illegal aliens.

Some have denounced Spencer's team as "vigilantes" who are "militarizing the border." Others think that's just what the border needs. The reality turned out to look a little different than either view.

The concept of drones seems to inspire both moralistic shock and technophile awe.

Automated surveillance craft, such as the Sentinels in "The Matrix," are the stuff of science fiction paranoia, perfect for Philip K. Dick movies.

Yet, judging from the lavish multipage spreads that the newsweeklies have devoted to the U.S. armed forces' use of pilotless drones since Sept. 11, 2001, a lot of Tom Clancy wannabes view UAVs as the sexiest high-tech weapon, the ideal fashion accessory for Jack Ryan. On the morning of last November's Election Day, the news broke that a missile-firing Predator drone operated by the CIA had blown up a car carrying a leading al-Qaida member. Those reports certainly didn't hurt the Republican administration's candidates at the polls later that day.

Perhaps "war nerds" like me love the notion of drones because we imagine ourselves using our video game joystick skills to search and destroy America's enemies from the comfort of our dens.

I got a look at American Border Patrol's first-generation drone on a dusty ranch outside Palominas, Ariz., a few hundred yards from where the San Pedro River flows north from Mexico into the United States.

East of the Mississippi, the San Pedro River would be considered a creek, but in the semi-arid high plains of southeastern Arizona, it's a major ecological resource. The San Pedro serves as a north-south freeway for an extraordinary number of migratory bird species, including at least a dozen kinds of hummingbirds.

The San Pedro is also a north-only freeway for illegal migrants fleeing Mexico. They use the verdant cottonwood and sycamore trees that line its banks for cover from government agents in their green-striped sport utility vehicles. The border-crossers often wander onto Wes Flowers' small ranch alongside the San Pedro, breaking down the fences that keep his cattle home, setting the occasional brush fire and stealing or breaking his water faucets.

It's tough making a living as an Arizona rancher even without constant trespassers. Therefore, Flowers has been letting ABP use a big dirt field on his ranch.

When I arrived, about a dozen volunteers were purposefully milling about a few trucks and vans, peering at laptops and prepping motion detector sensors.

Where is the drone, I wondered.

My experience with flight-testing was limited to multiple viewings of "The Right Stuff," so maybe I was expecting to see Sam Shepherd stride bravely across a beautifully stark dry lakebed while liquid fuel boils off from his X-1 rocket plane. Or perhaps, ABP's critics were right about its militarist ambitions and this would be some kind of nascent version of Darth Vader's Death Star.

Well ... it turned out that the current incarnation of the Border Hawk looks like a hobbyist's radio-controlled model airplane. In fact, that's what it is. Granted, with its almost 6-foot wingspan, it's a really big model airplane, the kind that a divorced dad with a Platinum Card and an extremely bad conscience might buy his 12-year-old son at FAO Schwarz. Still, it's hard to think of what looks like a Piper Cub model as technohip.

But that's the point, according to Spencer, a youngish-looking 65, who was a longtime executive and consultant in the data-modeling business before becoming a professional opponent of illegal immigration. He doesn't want to reinvent the drone wheel. He can buy sophisticated model airplanes off the shelf and then have his technical staff modify them with bigger fuel tanks and custom electronics.

Later this summer, Spencer said, they'll have a 10-foot plane that can stay aloft for four hours, three times longer than rather than the current craft's 80-minute limit.

But war nerds and vigilantes will remain disappointed because, unlike the $4.5 million Predator with its 49-foot wingspan, the Border Hawk is never going to be a weapons platform.

Instead, Spencer's group is testing a concept for a cheap data collection network that could conceivably monitor the entire 1,852-mile border with flying television cameras directed to illegal border crossers by in-ground motion detectors.

Spencer showed no desire to physically confront the illegal immigrants who pour across the border each night. He maintains a "no contact" policy with the illegal aliens his organization videotapes. He said ABP's goal is to take pictures and let the government do the apprehending. "Was Ansel Adams a vigilante?" Spencer asked rhetorically.

His plan, he noted, is to narrowcast live coverage nightly over the AmericanBorderPatrol.com Web site, using low-light and thermal imaging cameras, of what he carefully calls "suspected border intruders." However, he intends to only report their global positioning satellite coordinates to the Department of Homeland Security to prevent vigilantes and other hotheads from beating the government agents to them.

Spencer claimed his goals are two-fold: to help the DHS's Border Patrol do a better job, and to make vivid to the public the extent of the illegal immigration problem in order to build political pressure for stronger enforcement of immigration laws.

In his research and development efforts, employs full time two genial younger men. The goateed and tanned "two Mikes" -- technical director Mike King and operations director Mike Christie -- are best friends from 15 years back. Both are recent refugees from the high-tech industry in expensive Santa Cruz, Calif., the seacoast of Silicon Valley.

Christie proudly told me, "The first thing you need to know about Mike King is that he was a U.S. Army sniper."

King enthusiastically described the focus of their research and development efforts -- not on the drone, but on creating footstep sensors superior to the government's detectors, and on the software to interface the devices with the camera planes. "If we had a government contract, we'd be bogged down in bureaucracy," King claimed.

In the field test, King buried two of his new sensors in the ground so their devices' antennas stuck up a few inches. He measured each one's precise latitude and longitude with a Global Positioning System gadget and entered the coordinates in his laptop.

While the Border Hawk circled a couple of hundred feet overhead, buzzing like a large mosquito, four APB members and myself walked past the hidden motion detectors single file. ("SBIs always walk single file," I was told.) The two gizmos successfully reported by radio our direction and speed, although they overestimated our numbers, signaling that there were 11 of us instead of five.

Our GPS coordinates showed up on a map on King's wireless-networked laptop and a volunteer, who is a model airplane hobbyist, piloted the Border Hawk to our location to record our presence. Somebody who happened to be logged onto ABP's Web site at that moment could have watched live aerial pictures of me squinting up at the drone.

As you can see, this is already a complex system. Several more elements must be added and interconnected to allow it to accomplish Spencer's goals. For example, the great majority of illegal immigrants walk north after dark, so night-vision cameras would be critical. Further, a remote-control pilot would be hard pressed to fly by eye at night, so King hopes to add a GPS system to the drone this summer.

Then there are the legal, political and economic issues. If the drones take pictures of other ranches, could that be a violation of privacy? (In a somewhat similar case, Barbra Streisand is threatening a lawsuit against an environmental activist who has posted on the Web aerial photographs of the entire California coastline, including her beachfront mansion.)

Further, much of the borderlands are owned by either the federal government or Indian nations. Would they be interested? Spencer is unsure whether federal agencies have a positive attitude toward his project. "The government doesn't want a report card. We're kind of a watchdog on the U.S. Border Patrol," he said.

Spencer hopes to raise money from property owners and the general public to carry on testing, but probably only governments could afford a massive deployment of this technology were it to prove effective.

Spencer hates it when his group is lumped with the more militaristic, high-powered rifle-carrying volunteer organizations that have sprung up along the border in the last couple of years. "We get smeared as a militia," he said.

One of his volunteers, Richard Humphries, a retired military pilot and law enforcement officer who imports the famous handmade pottery from the Mexican village of Juan Mata Ortiz, told me, "All we are is a neighborhood watch group. Except we are concerned with our whole country."

Spencer acidly remarked about a couple of other well-publicized anti-illegal immigration groups that pursue physical encounters with trespassers, "As Goethe said, 'Nothing is more frightening than ignorance in action,'"

He went on, "They are accidents waiting to happen. This is no longer John Wayne Country. It's Litigation Nation. The Mexican government wants to hit them with a law suit."

"Did you see any vigilante activity today?" Spencer asked me.

No. Then again, nobody would call the ABP men a bunch of wimps, either. Many of the volunteers made their careers in law enforcement or the military, or both. Like lots of ranchers in this lightly populated area, a couple of the fellows at the flight test wore gun belts with holstered pistols. This proved rather reassuring to me in this rattlesnake-infested region, especially because I couldn't see any sticks within reach in case I felt a sudden need to whack a venomous reptile.

In terms of personal style, Spencer is the odd man out among the ranchers and retired cops who look to him for leadership. He has a soft-spoken Southern California accent that he acquired growing up in Hollywood, where his father was a musician. (He recently moved from Los Angeles to Sierra Vista, saying, "California is finished.") Spencer has the manner of a professor at an MBA school, one with a predilection for jargon such as, "We'll need to run some Monte Carlo simulations to model how many drones we'd need to cover the whole border."

His eyes lit up whenever the talk turned to numerical analysis. Statistics are how he became a crusader against illegal immigration in 1991. "I looked at the numbers, and I just couldn't let this issue go," he said.

Spencer frequently debates the Rev. Dr. Robin Hoover, pastor of a Disciples of Christ church in Tucson, Ariz., and founder of Humane Borders, which maintains 38 water tanks in the Arizona desert to prevent illegal immigrants from dying of thirst.

Ironically, if you didn't know which was which, you might well guess that the gruff Reverend Hoover, with his thick West Texas cowboy accent, PG-13-rated vocabulary and love of pickup trucks, was the conservative activist, and the intellectual Spencer was the liberal Protestant minister with a Ph.D.

In an interview, Hoover admitted that unlike the Ranch Rescue organization in Texas, American Border Patrol has no interest in armed confrontations. But the liberal minister claims that "American Border Patrol is actually the most dangerous organization of all," calling Spencer an ideologue who advocates "culture war."

Spencer replied, "I'm ideological in that I want to save my country."


TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; Mexico; News/Current Events; US: Arizona
KEYWORDS: borderhawk; crime; homelandsecurity; illegalimmigration; immigrantlist; invasion

1 posted on 06/24/2003 4:21:46 PM PDT by Tancredo Fan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: holyscroller; Spiff; HiJinx; flamefront; Drill Alaska; healey22; lutine; Right_Makes_Might; ...
An Illegal Alien Invasion **PING!!**
2 posted on 06/24/2003 4:22:20 PM PDT by Tancredo Fan (Stop the invasion. Put the military on the borders, round up illegals, and tell Fox to shove off.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tancredo Fan
Spencer replied,

"I'm ideological in that I want to save my country."


3 posted on 06/24/2003 4:30:17 PM PDT by TheWillardHotel
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tancredo Fan
Go ahead. Play with automatic drones. Have fun.

But in the end, the feds will come down on the technology you're using. Look to see them try and make model radio technology, GPS equipment, and if these things get big, General Aviation technology be heavily regulated or just made illegal.

The feds are already imposing a 30 mile restriction on all General Aviation aircraft wherever the president is. Which means during the campaign, a pilot runs the risk of getting arrested just because he didn't avoid the right area by enough miles.

4 posted on 06/24/2003 4:30:24 PM PDT by narby (I love the smell of Liberal fear in the morning...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tancredo Fan
How dare Spencer show what's actually happening on the border. Isn't this anti-American?

What a hoot.
5 posted on 06/24/2003 4:32:15 PM PDT by DoughtyOne
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tancredo Fan
There's something about the idea of pilotless drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, that makes them seem both ominous cost effective and cool.
6 posted on 06/24/2003 4:34:07 PM PDT by DannyTN (Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DannyTN
No pilot - No labor

The pilot is sitting on the ground. The drone is flown by a radio link. There is not only labor for the pilot doing the flying, but there is also maintenance to keep the UAV in good mechanical and electronic condition. The principal advantage is not having a live pilot in the aircraft. Less fuel. No risk to the life of the pilot. Ability to make high G maneuvers that a live pilot could not tolerate.

7 posted on 06/24/2003 4:48:43 PM PDT by Myrddin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: DannyTN
All UAV currently flying today both in military hands and the hands of the CIA are flown by rated pilots.

One of the guys who worked for my former flight department left right after 9/11 to go and fly UAV’s.

They also require maintance technicians to boot, they do have moving parts ya know…

8 posted on 06/24/2003 5:01:58 PM PDT by The Magical Mischief Tour
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: DoughtyOne
You have to wonder why our useless POS Fed hasn't done this already, and if not, WHY ARE THEY NOT DOING IT NOW????!!!

We have to have private people invest their own money to do what our government is constitutionally obligated to do?

They're doing everything they are not supposed to be doing and not doing anything they ARE supposed to be doing.

9 posted on 06/24/2003 5:02:46 PM PDT by AAABEST
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Tancredo Fan
Strato-plane looks skyward
10 posted on 06/24/2003 5:04:30 PM PDT by bicycle thug
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: The Magical Mischief Tour
It still has got to be cheaper. The things just hover for hours, why pay a person to sit in a helicopter when he can be on the ground doing other things.

Eventually they will get good enough and cheap enough that you won't need expert pilots to fly them and one person will monitor 6 of the things.

11 posted on 06/24/2003 5:05:38 PM PDT by DannyTN (Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Myrddin
The smallest military UAVs in service actually have no pilot, on the ground or anywhere else. They are simply launched, and then fly to predetermined coordinates and run preset search patterns, and orbit around items of interest on a path which keeps the camera on the center of the orbit.

This saves the military having to train R/C pilots. Just send em up, and tell em where to go and when to come home.

12 posted on 06/24/2003 5:10:39 PM PDT by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: The Magical Mischief Tour
All UAV currently flying today both in military hands and the hands of the CIA are flown by rated pilots. Not true. See my above. The ground controller just punches coordinates in on his laptop grid map, the plane flies itself. I forget the name of the model, it's about a 5 foot wingspan, made of foam by the "skunkworks."
13 posted on 06/24/2003 5:13:19 PM PDT by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Tancredo Fan
Steve Sailer BUMP!
14 posted on 06/24/2003 5:16:17 PM PDT by Under the Radar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST
from John Derbyshire

The Great Syllogism


Reader, I have been vouchsafed a revelation, a sudden flash of understanding, a satori, a glimpse of the inner workings of the universe, of the waters that are under the earth, of the hidden tissues that connect aspects of reality not normally thought of as being related to each other in any way at all.  Illuminated by that flash was quite a large part of the entire political landscape of the present-day USA, as if seen from a plane through a sudden gap in the clouds.  

I am going to lay out my revelation in three parts:  a preamble, then a syllogism, then a conclusion.  The syllogism seems to me so all-encompassing and revelatory that, shucking off false modesty, I am going to call it “The Great Syllogism.”  (Students of classical logic may complain that it is not, strictly speaking, a syllogism at all — more like a dilemma.  “Syllogism” has taken my fancy, though, and Merriam-Webster’s Third seems to permit this usage.  How many students of classical logic are there nowadays anyway?) 

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I'll begin.

 

Not so much a preamble as a actual amble, conducted here in the outer New York suburbs, through some leafy streets with houses standing on plots that vary from one-sixth to one-half of an acre, and that show up in real-estate catalogs, when they do show up, at prices from the low 300s to the high 600s.  The time:  around nine thirty on a weekday morning.  My state of mind:  I had finished my breakfast, read the newspaper, seen the kids off to school and the wife off to work, attended to some e-mail chores, and read some news and opinion pieces on the internet.  Among the latter was Peter Wood’s review of John Ogbu’s Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb.  Then I set out to walk my dog.

There aren’t many people around in the burbs at this time of the morning.  Other than a couple of encounters with neighbors, the human beings I saw fell into three categories.

The garden-service people are solidly Central-American Indian types, though often working for a white boss.  They are small-built, dark-skinned and black-haired.  When I give them a friendly greeting they seem pleased and greet me back, smiling, but in a way suggesting that “Good morning!” is just about the limit of their English-language skills. 

The construction people are a mix of white and Hispanic, the one constant factor being that everyone acting in a supervisory way is white.  One of the roofing team — the owner of the firm, it sounds like — is talking up to his man on the roof.  He is doing this through a third party, who translates his Noo Yawk English into Spanish. 

The elderly lady out walking with her grandchild is white, but the children’s nurse pushing the stroller is a Mayan sculpture come to life.  The wordless smile with which she returns my greeting shows gold teeth. 

I don’t see any black people at all, nor any East Asians.

 

(1)  At any point in time — this one, for example — the United States economy needs different kinds of workers in different numbers.  It needs a certain number of lawyers, accountants, architects and doctors.  It needs a certain number of network supervisors, computer programmers, web designers, schoolteachers, tax preparers and nurses.  It needs a certain number of garden-service workers, lumberjacks, auto mechanics, plumbers, steel-fixers, cops, soldiers and child-minders.

(2)  Always scornful of privileges bestowed by accidents of birth or place, this country has a deep attachment to the idea of meritocracy.  In recent decades we have developed an equally strong emotional investment in the concept of racial equality.

(3)  Our very best efforts at creating a meritocratic education system always turn up the same unhappy results:  students of Ashkenazi-Jewish and East or South Asian ancestry are over-represented among the educational successes, while students of West African ancestry are over-represented among the educational failures.

(4)  All sorts of theories are available to explain (3) — John Ogbu’s is only the latest.  Unfortunately we don’t know which theory is true.  Possibly just one of the theories is true.  Possibly the true cause is something nobody has thought of yet.  More likely the truth contains elements, in different proportions, from several theories.

(5)  Until we understand the causes of (3), the most meritocratic system of education we can devise will produce a society with a highly-paid cognitive elite in which persons of Ashkenazi-Jewish and East or South Asian ancestry are over-represented, a class of manual and service workers in which black people are over-represented, and a clerical or small-entrepreneurial class in which white gentiles are over-represented.

(6)  Such a society would be grossly offensive to American sensibilities.  (See (2) above.)  It would also, in all probability, be unhappy and unstable.

(7)  Adjustments to the meritocratic principle therefore need to be made:  “affirmative action,” imposed “diversity” quotas in businesses, anti-discrimination laws, and so on.  We must trade off some meritocracy for social harmony.

(8)  The effect of these adjustments is — as it is intended to be! — to move up into the clerical class people who, in a pure-meritocratic system, would be in the manual class.  (And, to a less significant degree, to move up into the cognitive-elite class people who would otherwise be clerks.)

(9)  Corresponding adjustments to shift down into the manual class people who would, on a pure-meritocratic principle, be in the clerical class, are politically impossible.

(10)  Therefore the manual class is seriously under-staffed.

(11)  Millions of Third-worlders are only too glad to come to the USA to do manual or low-level service work.

(12)  Unfortunately the immigration laws do not allow them to come here.

(13)  The immigration laws should therefore be changed to permit a large inflow of unskilled aliens from the Third World.

(14)  Such changes are unpopular with large parts of the American public, who fear the cultural and economic consequences.

(15)  Politicians know (14) and therefore will not change the immigration laws.  And so:

(16)  For the sake of social harmony, we have no choice but to turn a blind eye while several million unskilled aliens enter our country and stay here illegally.

 

The paradox is that this particular way of avoiding one kind of social disharmony — racial stratification by class — introduces a different kind:  the colonization of large parts of our cities by non-English-speaking foreigners who, because of their illegal status, are stuck outside the mainstream of American life.  Also because of that same status, they are looked on with mistrust by citizens and legal immigrants.  This unhappy state of affairs is none the less considered, by most of us, to be the lesser of two evils.  Rough, dirty and strenuous work must be done.  If, as we suspect is the case, the choice is between having that work done by (a) large angry black people, or (b) small friendly brown people, we’ll buy the package:  affirmative action plus massive unrestrained illegal immigration.

Our political classes, who of course know all that I have been saying here, had a plan to finesse the situation by simply “regularizing” the illegals, thus at least removing the stigma of law-breaker from them.  That plan went up in the smoke of 9/11.  It was, in any case, grossly unfair to legal immigrants, who have to jump through numberless hoops to get the right to live here (it took me seven years).  We are stuck with the present situation, with the Great Syllogism.  Probably we are storing up untold trouble for ourselves.  The latest news in my own neighborhood is that an exceptionally vicious Central American gang named Mara Salvatrucha is now entrenched here on Long Island.  (“Working as landscapers and busboys by day and criminals at night,” says the New York Post.  Which puts those cheery lawn-service workers in a new light.)

Americans, though, do not lose much sleep over the prospect of future evils.  This is a big, empty country filled with boundless optimism.  David Brooks has remarked that the usual reaction of Americans when faced with “disapproval, anxiety, and potential conflict” is to move away.  Similarly, given the choice between a pressing problem today and a reckless policy likely to deliver far worse problems tomorrow, we opt for the second.  The future, after all, is full of possibilities, and by the time that second batch of problems arrives, we may have found some way to cope with them.

Let’s hope that that is what happens.  Ross Perot used to speak of the “giant sucking sound” of manufacturing jobs fleeing the U.S. to low-wage countries south of the border.  The giant sucking sound I am actually hearing, ten years later, is the sound of millions of unskilled Third Worlders being pulled into this country by the vacuum at the bottom of the labor market — a vacuum we have ourselves created by deciding that such low-quality work should not be done by Americans, especially not by those Americans most likely to be assigned to it by our educational system. 

We no longer believe in the dignity of labor.  We all want our kids to go to law school, and have convinced ourselves that they have a right to do so.  What do you think the slogan “No child left behind” means?  It means that no American child should have to become a low-status worker.  That’s what it means, and that is what we honestly and sincerely wish, because we fear we know what an American-born class of low-status workers would look like.  Everything else follows by pure logic.

15 posted on 06/24/2003 5:22:36 PM PDT by Under the Radar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Tancredo Fan
It just may be a way to slow down any terrorist who wish to cross the boarder with illegals.
16 posted on 06/24/2003 5:22:42 PM PDT by darkwing104
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST
I agree. It's frustrating as hell. Can't wait until one of our national ba--ards asks me to suppor them once again. If they can't understand or implement Article Four Section four of the constitution, they aren't worthy of a vote, plain and simple.
17 posted on 06/24/2003 5:27:00 PM PDT by DoughtyOne
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Travis McGee
I bet this would be fun.

Unmanned Air Vehicle Demonstration 2003

18 posted on 06/24/2003 5:28:03 PM PDT by csvset
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Travis McGee
I'm surprised to hear that they come home in one piece. Autonomous take off is easy. Landing requires some real precision instruments to line it back up with the runway and touch down without a mishap. It would be fun to see one of these UAVs on return.
19 posted on 06/24/2003 5:29:29 PM PDT by Myrddin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: DannyTN
There's something about the idea of pilotless drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, that makes them seem both ominous cost effective and cool.

At this stage of development these ABP "toys" may be "cost effective" but as these surveillance drones become useful thay are going to cost on the order of a thousand times more than they do now (>$30k/ unit).

The cost of the these aircraft lies not in their propulsion system or airframe but in their software and surveillance systems. Daylight imaging is cheap but night imaging of any useful resolution is astronomical. Reporting the position of the surveillance platform is realtively economical but reporting the position of the target in realtime is economically numbing for the private sector and their are only a limited number of sources for the navigation/flight/communication code. The individuals who developed this sophistocated software over the past 5 years aren't going to donate their work product to the ABP because they're patriotic.

One of the leaders in Micro UAV technology recently reminded me, when I broached the subject of ABP's experiments, that the cost of this technology is only justified by a free spending government because the system saves lives. The ABP will sadly conclude, after their experience, that it is cheaper to acquire, operate and maintain a light, civilian aircraft with a flight crew of two than it is to attempt to operate an autonomous, integrated, night surveillance system utilizing UAVs.

20 posted on 06/24/2003 5:32:22 PM PDT by Amerigomag
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Tancredo Fan
Bump
21 posted on 06/24/2003 5:33:36 PM PDT by Fiddlstix (~~~ http://www.ourgangnet.net ~~~~~)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: The Magical Mischief Tour
All UAV currently flying today both in military hands and the hands of the CIA are flown by rated pilots.

One of the guys who worked for my former flight department left right after 9/11 to go and fly UAV’s.

But they're not all officer rated pilots....

-archy-/-

22 posted on 06/24/2003 5:42:48 PM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Amerigomag
It is a start...
23 posted on 06/24/2003 5:44:13 PM PDT by autoresponder (. . . . SOME CAN*T HANDLE THE TRUTH . . . THE NYT ESPECIALLY!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Tancredo Fan
So, I was intrigued to hear from Glenn Spencer, head of a group of activists opposed to illegal immigration, that he was testing surveillance drones over the Arizona-Mexico frontier.

Glenn Spencer and the ABP aren't the only ones who've been testing border surveillance drones on the Arizona border....

-archy-/-

24 posted on 06/24/2003 5:47:53 PM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST; Tancredo Fan
Ridge says unmanned drones could be patrolling borders by end of the year
5/22/03 Unmanned aerial drones similar to ones used in the war on Iraq could be patrolling the U.S. border by the end of the year to help stem illegal immigration and increase security, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said ... "We are very serious in looking at UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) for both border applications, land and sea," Ridge told the House Select Committee on Homeland Security.
25 posted on 06/24/2003 5:50:18 PM PDT by concentric circles
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Tancredo Fan
Now, how many Hellfires will this little bird carry?

Hmmm...
26 posted on 06/24/2003 5:50:49 PM PDT by Have Ruck - Will Travel
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: concentric circles; DoughtyOne
RE: #25

VERY ENCOURAGING!

If Ridge does this I promise I'll stop calling him a fat-faced pro-death RINO.

27 posted on 06/24/2003 6:00:03 PM PDT by AAABEST
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Amerigomag
"The ABP will sadly conclude, after their experience, that it is cheaper to acquire, operate and maintain a light, civilian aircraft with a flight crew of two than it is to attempt to operate an autonomous, integrated, night surveillance system utilizing UAVs. "

I don't buy it. If you can put the machine up there for $30k. If it lasts just 3 years that $10k a year.

As to software, I am sure the government has the specifications down that they want and can turn to other developers if the current developers try to jack the price up too high. It might mean that it's a few more years before they are being used in mass, but it's still a brilliant idea. And you can be sure the government isn't going to pass on it, because a couple of developers are going to get greedy.

28 posted on 06/24/2003 6:03:33 PM PDT by DannyTN (Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST
Okay, my money is on Ridge actually refering to all that "just terrible" illegal immigration that transpires on our northern border. That's where the real problem is, don't sha know.

If he is talking about our southern border, I'll have to sit down for a few days so I don't faint.

Still, drones to interdiction is one hell of a divide.
29 posted on 06/24/2003 6:06:07 PM PDT by DoughtyOne
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Tancredo Fan
But the liberal minister claims that "American Border Patrol is actually the most dangerous organization of all," calling Spencer an ideologue who advocates "culture war."

No, Reverend Hoover, we're the most dangerous because we publicize the issue and shine the light on government and political stupidity.

Our local Border Patrol agents could slam the border shut if they had a few more resources and less interference from the morons in their management.

Watch for the shrieking to start in earnest soon, folks. Glenn wasn't joking when he announced that ABP is busy planting sensors on popular illegal alien trails, with full cooperation from the landowners. The Aztlan crowd is gonna have a major hissy fit.

Oh -- and the UAVs and sensors are much more refined and sophisticated now in comparison to when Steve saw them weeks ago.

30 posted on 06/24/2003 6:20:57 PM PDT by JackelopeBreeder (Proud to be a loco gringo armed vigilante terrorist cucaracha.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DannyTN
If you can put the machine up there for $30k.

That's one (1) UAV for $30K - $50K. A minimum of 4 are needed for 10/7 coverage of 100 square miles and then there's the communication package which involves mutipule, ground based transceivers/relays or a satellite subscription or a an aerial communication relay platform with a 10 hour endurance.

For those from Rio Linda that's about US$1M to cover two canyons for 10 hours each evening for a year.

31 posted on 06/24/2003 6:46:16 PM PDT by Amerigomag
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST; Tancredo Fan
Another item of interest:

Border security plans alarm some
5/30/03 Miles of taller, more imposing fencing along with new roads, dozens of more powerful stadium lights and new permanent Border Patrol facilities at Willcox and Nogales are being considered along the border, federal reports show.

...The Border Patrol plans are outlined in a series of environmental assessments for projects under review.

Among them is a proposal for more than 22 miles of 15-foot-tall metal or concrete fencing that would be backed by 18 miles of a secondary chain-link fence topped with razor wire and separated by a restricted-access road.

At Nogales, the Border Patrol plans only one mile of new fencing and two miles of road. But it also proposes 15 new remote video cameras along the border and another 60 portable light units.

...Plans also include Operation Desert Grip, which would allow three Border Patrol encampments in Organ Pipe National Monument and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. Four more encampments are planned on the Tohono O'odham Reservation but are included in a separate environmental review.

...The Border Patrol's long-range fencing plans would close off nearly two-thirds of the Arizona border with Mexico...

32 posted on 06/24/2003 7:04:01 PM PDT by concentric circles
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Amerigomag
"For those from Rio Linda that's about US$1M to cover two canyons for 10 hours each evening for a year. "

That still not bad compared to the alternatives. Plus I don't know if you depreciated the equipment and software over 3-5 years, but you should. They have to pay for it up front but they don't have to pay for it again until it wears out. There will be 15% annual maintenance on software typically in addition to the depreciation.

33 posted on 06/24/2003 7:06:46 PM PDT by DannyTN (Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Tancredo Fan
Immivaders won;t be caught by the feds, so someone's got to do it. The Border Patrol isn't funded to do the job, on purposes.
34 posted on 06/24/2003 8:03:45 PM PDT by PatrioticAmerican (If the only way an American can get elected is through Mexican votes, we have a war to be waged.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: All

35 posted on 06/24/2003 8:15:21 PM PDT by Terp (Retired US Navy now living in Philippines were the Moutains meet the Sea in the Land of Smiles)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: Amerigomag
A single transciever with the antenna located atop a tower would suffice if the drones have line-of-sight view of it with no obstructons.
36 posted on 06/24/2003 9:09:31 PM PDT by brianl703
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Myrddin
They are packed in a special crate for ruggedness, and are made of a new tough foam for ruggedness on landing. And they are cheap, so the unit deploys with several spares. They employ a pusher prop so landing is not hard on the craft. They launch with a bungee slingshot. Once airborne they fly autonomously to their assigned area. Mid course guidance is done on the laptop to wireless. A unique feature is their orbit mode, where they keep an assigned target in the center of their pattern on video for prolonged observation. The computer does all "flying" chores. It only takes a couple days to train an operator.
37 posted on 06/24/2003 9:21:22 PM PDT by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: DannyTN; Amerigomag
Good observations by both of you, but ABP develops and fabricates most of the equipment (and software) we use. Cochise County may be the original ass end of nowhere, but it is also the home of the Army Intelligence Center, Signal Command, and the Electronic Proving Grounds. There is a lot of local talent here.

The real key is the ground sensors; they tell us which areas are active. The UAVs don't launch until they have a target. They are only an airborne camera platform. Yes, UAVs are sexy right now, but we limit ours to just the capabilities we need. We do not need Milspec ruggedization that only adds weight and expense and cuts into endurance and payload capacity.

We have not eliminated the ground element, either. The Hawkeyes are still finding good trails for the sensors, turning in aliens to the Border Patrol, and will continue to chase the UAVs to the targets. Aerial video is nice, but nothing matches the up-close "deer-in-the-headlights' look when a bunch of illegals find themselves staring into a video camera from ten feet away. Especially if the camera man is flanked by several ugly loco gringos and Border Patrol agents.
38 posted on 06/24/2003 9:32:30 PM PDT by JackelopeBreeder (Proud to be a loco gringo armed vigilante terrorist cucaracha.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: Travis McGee
Pretty good stuff. I'll have to content myself with model rockets for the time being. As long as I can lay my hands on Estes motors.
39 posted on 06/24/2003 9:44:47 PM PDT by Myrddin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

Comment #40 Removed by Moderator

To: Tancredo Fan
He (Spencer) went on, "They are accidents waiting to happen. This is no longer John Wayne Country. It's Litigation Nation. The Mexican government wants to hit them with a law suit."

Hey, now there's an idea. Let's hit the racist, corrupt, elitist Mexican government with hundreds of lawsuits charging it with being involved with drug smuggling into the United States, illegal alien smuggling into the United States, meddling in a sovereign country's domestic affairs (United States), harboring fugitives from crimes that they've committed in the United States, etc.

41 posted on 06/24/2003 10:22:58 PM PDT by judgeandjury (The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the state.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tancredo Fan
Their plan is to deliver live over the Internet aerial coverage of illegal aliens slipping into the United States, and their purpose is to both assist and prod the federal U.S. Border Patrol in sealing the southern border against illegal aliens.

Great. We'll now have videotape of 50,000 Mexicans a day flipping the bird at the camera as they stroll across the border unimpeded.

42 posted on 06/24/2003 11:03:58 PM PDT by F16Fighter (What color pants-suit did Hitlery wear today?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: JackelopeBreeder; Amerigomag
nothing matches the up-close "deer-in-the-headlights' look when a bunch of illegals find themselves staring into a video camera from ten feet away. Especially if the camera man is flanked by several ugly loco gringos and Border Patrol agents."

That's great. I'm glad you're keeping the ugly loco gringos employed.

43 posted on 06/25/2003 8:34:12 AM PDT by DannyTN (Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: F16Fighter
Great. We'll now have videotape of 50,000 Mexicans a day flipping the bird at the camera as they stroll across the border unimpeded.

A Classic! ROTFLMAO! Unfortunately, too true. This administration sold out long ago. The fix is in. All for the chimera of Hispanic GOP votes.

44 posted on 06/25/2003 10:50:14 AM PDT by Paul Ross (From the State Looking Forward to Global Warming! Let's Drown France!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: Amerigomag
Daylight imaging is cheap but night imaging of any useful resolution is ...

What?

Add an IR imager and thermal cooler for imager, the correct optics for use in the IR range and BINGO - thermal night vision ...

45 posted on 06/25/2003 11:27:22 AM PDT by _Jim
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Amerigomag
reporting the position of the target in realtime is economically numbing

What are you planning on using - a ReFLEX 50 network?

46 posted on 06/25/2003 11:30:04 AM PDT by _Jim
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: _Jim
What are you planning on using - a ReFLEX 50 network?

No.

A commercially available thermal camera. A commericially avaliable lasing rangefinder. A proprietary, 3 axis, gimbal mount for the imaging and ranging systems. A commerically available GPS receiver. A proprietary board containing local, 3 dimensional, terrain maps, a small number crunching chip and a 3-6 watt transmitter. A proprietary board for propulsion mangement, navigation and flight control. The rest is straight forward materials and equipment found in RC soaring supply catalogs. About the only other item that's expensive is the refractive, absorbing paint if you'd like to remain beyond the eyes of big brother.

The resultant system weighs less than 15 pounds, is silent beyond 100 meters, has an extremly small radar cross section and an endurance of about 45 minutes. Images acquired at a silent range are suitable for recognition software analysis and target position is real time to about 1 meter.

If the trekkers are less than 15 miles from the launch point the system can produce useable still images and video clips of the coyote(s) and the age and gender of the clients so the BP can take a head count after the round up.

The point of this expalnation is that the systems are readily available to the private sector, for a price, but the system raises a whole host of other issues, the least of which is privacy litigation.

47 posted on 06/25/2003 5:32:10 PM PDT by Amerigomag
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 46 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson