“Drone?” Shouldn’t that be “Drones?” There’s only one of them? Not likely this is accidental.
Monday, Dec 08, 2008
FARGO, N.D. — Federal Customs and Border Protection authorities are preparing to launch unmanned aircraft patrols from this state, the first time such monitoring will occur along the nation’s northern border.
A Predator B aircraft, delivered to Grand Forks on Saturday, will make runs along the northern edge of North Dakota using sensors that can provide video and detect heat and changes to landscape, Customs and Border Protection officials said.
The plane, which can go 260 miles per hour and fly as high as 50,000 feet, can stay aloft for 18 hours. The first missions, designed to help spot people crossing the border illegally or avoiding ports of entry, are expected to start next month.
Similar aircraft have patrolled the nation’s southern border since 2005, where they have helped lead to the discovery of more than 18,000 pounds of marijuana and 4,000 illegal immigrants, a spokesman for the agency said.
John Stanton, executive director of the service’s national air security operations, said the authorities decided to move to the northern border because enough aircraft were now available. (The base cost for the Predator is about $10 million.)
Along the entire northern border, Customs and Border Protection officials make about 4,000 arrests and intercept about 40,000 pounds of illegal drugs each year.
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