If they’re good enough for Pakistan, they’re good enough for Canada, right?
February 16, 2009
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 B 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.
U.S. border protection official Michael Kostelnik said that in these “dangerous times,” it’s more important than ever for both countries to know who and what is crossing the border.
“There are vast parts of the border where, on any given day, we’re not sure what’s going on so part of this is to try to deal with the unknown and not be surprised,” Kostelnik said.
Monday’s drone launch comes a day before Janet Napolitano, the new secretary of U.S. Homeland Security, is to get a review of the security efforts along the Canadian-American border, and just three days before U.S. President Barack Obama’s first visit to Canada.
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