Surveillance Drones Don't Live Up To Expectations

By:  Kelly Holt
05/01/2012
       
Surveillance Drones Don't Live Up To Expectations

Predator Drones have proven not to be worth the cost in their ability to curb contraband, drug traffic, and illegal alien activity.

Predator Drones have proven not to be worth the cost in their ability to curb contraband, drug traffic, and illegal alien activity.

 

Nearly two years after Predator B drones were deployed along the Texas/Mexico international border, the unmanned surveillance aircraft have proven to be, well, not worth it. The drones were intended to augment the presence of border agents and physical barriers such as some 700 miles of intermittent border fencing along the Rio Grande River. The Hill reported on June 10, 2010 that setting up a single drone in Corpus Christi, Texas (on the Gulf Coast), would have an estimated cost of between $20 and $80 million to focus on the Texas border alone.

Even the governor of the Lone Star State, Rick Perry had more faith in the aircraft than has been borne out. He told a New Hampshire audience last August, "Because if we will commit to that, [using predator drones] I will suggest to you that we will be able to drive the drug cartels away from that border.”

But, according to the Los Angeles Times for April 30, 2012 “Mixed results show a glaring problem for Homeland Security officials who have spent six years and more than $250 million building the nation's largest fleet of domestic surveillance drones. The nine Predators that help police America's borders have yet to be very useful in stopping contraband or illegal immigrants.”

The newspaper referenced a 2012 audit of the drone program by the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general, revealing some problems. In 2010 the fleet flew about half the number of hours scheduled by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on both the northern and southern borders and the Caribbean, as well as costing more than expected to operate, and, just like other aircraft, the units are subject to grounding by unfavorable weather.

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