UAV drones for the Texas/Mexico border

Paul Raven @ 11-05-2010

When you’ve got a nice new hammer, everything looks like a nail: Statesman.com reports that the US government is about to cave in to pressure from Texan politicos and agree to supply UAV drones for surveillance duties along the border with Mexico:

If approved, the unmanned aircraft in Texas would add to the federal government’s existing border effort, which includes a handful of other unmanned aircraft, 20,000 Border Patrol agents, about 650 miles of border fence and 41 mobile surveillance systems, according to Customs and Border Protection.

The plane, which is made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and officially called a Predator B, is able to spot illegal border activity and send images in real time to border officials.

At that point, Border Patrol agents could be dispatched, according to Customs and Border Protection.

This story via Chairman Bruce, who remarks:

The fun part will come when these unmanned aerial vehicles are copied by narcotrafficantes and loaded with cocaine.

I think there’ll be a few other “fun parts”, though not quite so headline-worthy. Lot of kids along that border are going to get real proficient with low-tech ballistics and backyard camouflage, for instance. I wonder how good at differentiating between “illegal border activity” and “activity near a border” the hardware and operators will be? And how long it’ll be before those drones have some sort of payload, pour discourager les autres?