Monday, February 16, 2009

U.S. Set to Launch Unmanned Aerial Drones to Monitor Manitoba Border

(CBC News)

The first unmanned surveillance airplanes will start patrolling the Manitoba portion of Canada's border with the U.S. after a ceremonial launch Monday, officials say.

Based at a military facility in Grand Forks, N.D., the $10-million Predator drone aircraft are equipped with sensors capable of detecting a moving person from 10 kilometres away.

They will gather information as they fly along the 400-kilometre border and then transmit it back to operators who will in turn contact border agents. The drones will not carry weapons, such as missiles or laser-guided bombs, and will need permission to fly in Canadian airspace.

Manitoba has 12 official border crossings — only two are open 24 hours a day. Much of the land in between the crossings is either swampland, lakes or farmers' fields.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Ron Obodzinski said the new surveillance planes will be a big help in the fight against the smuggling of drugs, alcohol and people.

“The program is going to enhance our relationship between our American partners and the Canadian agencies,” he said. Read more here.