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CBP Testing Drone Along Northern Border

06/25/2009 -Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has adopted a new addition to help the agency watch over the northern border in upstate New York: a Predator B Unmanned Aircraft System,according to WWTI in Watertown, New York.

A Predator B Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) has been temporarily based at Fort Drum since early June in an experiment by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office.

The Department of Homeland Security is using the extensive restricted air space over Fort Drum to test whether the drone could be a good fit along this stretch of the northern border ....

The Predator will operate out of Fort Drum for about three weeks for testing and training, and to evaluate its use to law enforcement.

The CBP told WWTI that while testing the Predator B they will also watch out for suspicious activities on Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and stretches of the New York-Canadian border when it breaks from the river.

John Stanton, director of CPB's Office of Air and Marine, told the news station that state, provincial, and local law enforcement authorities quickly took up the offer for more surveillance help along the border and on the waterways. Local authorities find it extremely difficult, if almost impossible, to get the Federal Aviation Administration to give them permission to test UASs in civilian airspace.

During its test flights, the Predator flies at an altitude of 19,000 feet in restricted airspace to avoid lower-level air traffic that could result in a collision. The Predator currently in use at Fort Drum is virtually identical to those used by the military minus the weapons and a less-powerful motor.

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♦ Photo byStuka115/Flickr